Faith and Empire

Art and Politics in Tibetan Buddhism

Edited by Karl Debreczeny

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  • Published: March 2019
  • Subject Listing: Art History / Asian Art; Asian Studies / Tibet
  • Bibliographic information: 272 pp., 120 illus., 9 x 12 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Distributed for: Rubin Museum of Art
  • Contents

Faith and Empire explores the dynamic intersection of politics, religion, and art in Tibetan Buddhism. At the heart of this dynamic is the force of religion to claim political power. Covering the Tibetan, Tangut, Mongolian, Chinese, and Manchu empires from the seventh to the early twentieth century, this volume illuminates how Tibetan Buddhism presented both a model of universal sacral kingship and a tantric ritual technology to physical power. Tibetans also used the mechanism of reincarnation as a means of succession, a unique form of political legitimacy that they brought to empires to the east. Images were a primary means of political propagation, integral to magical tantric rites and embodiments of power. Through the lens of Tibetan Buddhism's potent historic political role in Asia, Faith and Empire seeks to place Himalayan art in a larger global context and shed light on an important but little-known aspect of power in the Tibetan tradition.
Karl Debreczeny is senior curator of collections and research at the Rubin Museum of Art, New York. His past publications include The Black Hat Eccentric: Artistic Visions of the Tenth Karmapa; The All-Knowing Buddha: A Secret Guide; Situ Panchen: Creation and Cultural Engagement in Eighteenth-Century Tibet; and The Tenth Karmapa and Tibet's Turbulent Seventeenth Century.