In this issue, we are publishing the papers presented at TAASA’s full day Inner Asia symposium held on 7 September at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. The symposium drew together a number of experts who explored aspects of the rich cultures of the region stretching from the Korean peninsula to West Asia - and in particular the interaction of ideas and material culture within this region and between this region and the great powers at the periphery, especially the Chinese and Persian worlds.
We were honoured to welcome our keynote speaker, Professor Zhang Jianlin, Deputy Director of the Shaanxi Provincial Archaeology Research Institute, China, who presented his recent work in Tibet at sites relating to the Tubo kingdom from the 7th to early 9th centuries. Images found at these sites demonstrate the frequent cultural exchanges between the Tubo, the Tang empire and Central Asia in this period. In particular, his observations of the costumes depicted on these images show how the people of Tubo integrated Buddhism with the customs of their traditional worship.
Dr Angelo Andrea di Castro continued the theme of cultural interaction in his presentation of artistic and architectural features of the Kashgar area, based on recent work undertaken through the Monash Kashgar Project. His article illustrates how cultural exchanges and inter-ethnic relations have been shaping the social environment of the Kashgar oasis uninterrupted since the early Iron Age.
Lyndon Arden-Wong focuses specifically on the Türk (552-742) and Uighur (744-840) periods in the central–eastern Eurasian steppes, exploring the cultural differences between these two societies through their use of tamga - which can variously mean a brand (for livestock), seal of author, mark of ownership or a political symbol. His close analysis of the changing use of tamga signs demonstrates the shift in ritual practice over this period.
The potential for influences to reach right across the Inner Asia region is suggested by Dr Qinghua Guo’s article on the architectural remains of the Bohai capital, Shangjing in present Northeastern China dating from the 7th to 9th century. She focuses on the extant roofing tiles found at Shangjing, observing that, while these tiles follow the general range of types familiar in Tang dynasty China (618 – 907), the type of eaves-cover tiles used here is distinctive and uncommon in the Tang.
Instead, Dr Guo points out the similarity between these arched eaves cover roof tiles and earlier roof tiles found at Gordion, the capital of the Phrygian kingdom (8th century BCE), suggesting contact over widely separated geographic regions and time span.
The presence of Christian communities throughout the Inner Asia region is also a testament to the way in which international trade along the ‘Silk Road’ facilitated the movement of ideas and peoples across this region. The final paper at the symposium presented by Dr Ken Parry discussed how eastern rite Christian communities, initially found in Persia from at least the 3rd century CE, established themselves in the oasis towns of Inner Asia. Dr Parry shared his own recent archaeological work at Quanzhou in South China, where there are archaeological remains from Christian as well as Hindu, Manichaean and Muslim communities dating from the Yuan dynasty (1279 -1368).
This issue is not confined to the Inner Asia symposium. Christopher Haskett presents an 18th century thangka or large Tibetan scroll painting held by the NGA, Canberra, which has only recently been identified as an important portrait of the fifth Tai Situpa, a high lama of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.
Russell Kelty describes a fascinating display - Stairway To Heaven - currently at the Art Gallery of South Australia, with over 40 works created primarily in the Himalayan region, or inspired by its sacred traditions.
Another major exhibition which TAASA members can currently enjoy is at the NGV, Melbourne. Dr Mae Anna Pang has curated Three Perfections: Poetry, Calligraphy and Painting in Chinese Art which showcases paintings and calligraphy dating from the 14th century to the present from the NGV’s Asian collection.
Rounding out our offering in this issue is Christina Sumner’s detailed description of a Khotan rug in the collection of the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. And for those who want to extend their knowledge of the Inner Asia region, we present Professor Jeffrey Riegel’s informative assessment of a recent publication by Valerie Hansen, namely The Silk Road: A New History, plus Sandra Forbes’ tantalising introduction to The Museum of Samarkand.
In this last TAASA Review for 2013, we would like to wish TAASA members all the very best for the festive season. We look forward to sharing a full program of activities in 2014.
3 EDITORIAL: INNER ASIA
Josefa Green, Editor
4 TIBETAN BUDDHIST IMAGES: CULTURAL INTERACTION BETWEEN TIBET, EAST AND CENTRAL ASIA
7 STUPAS AND WINE: THE ARTISTIC TRADITIONS OF THE KASHGAR OASIS
Angelo Andrea Di Castro
11 SHIFTING RITUAL PRACTICES: TÜRK AND UIGHUR TAMGA-SYMBOLS
Lyndon A. Arden-Wong
14 ROOFING TILES AT SHANGJING: A REFLECTION ON ARCHITECTURAL LINKS IN ASIA
16 EARLY CHRISTIANITY IN INNER ASIA: THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND ART HISTORICAL EVIDENCE
19 THREE PERFECTIONS: POETRY, CALLIGRAPHY AND PAINTING IN CHINESE ART AT THE NGV
Mae Anna Pang
22 A TIBETAN THANKA AT THE NGA
24 STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN – HIMALAYAN ART AT AGSA
26 IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN: A KHOTAN RUG AT THE POWERHOUSE MUSEUM
27 BOOK REVIEW: THE SILK ROAD
28 Traveller’s Choice: The Museum of AFRASIAB, Samarkand
29 RECENT TAASA ACTIVITIES
29 TAASA Members’ Diary: DECEMBER 2013 – FEBRUARY 2014
31 WHAT ’S ON IN AUSTRALIA: DECEMBER 2013 – FEBRUARY 2014
Compiled by Tina Burge