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The cultural landscape and archaeological remains of the Bamiyan Valley represent the artistic and religious developments which from the 1st to the 13th centuries characterized ancient Bakhtria, integrating various cultural influences into the Gandhara school of Buddhist art. The Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley represent the artistic and religious developments which from the 1st to the 13th centuries characterised ancient Bactria, integrating various cultural influences into the Gandharan school of Buddhist art. Criterion (i): The Buddha statues and the cave art in Bamiyan Valley are an outstanding representation of the Gandharan school in Buddhist art in the Central Asian region. Criterion (ii):The artistic and architectural remains of Bamiyan Valley, an important Buddhist centre on the Silk Road, are an exceptional testimony to the interchange of Indian, Hellenistic, Roman and Sasanian influences as the basis for the development of a particular artistic expression in the Gandharan school. Criterion (iii):The Bamiyan Valley bears an exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition in the Central Asian region, which has disappeared.
Criterion (iv): The Bamiyan Valley is an outstanding example of a cultural landscape which illustrates a significant period in Buddhism.
Criterion (vi): The Bamiyan Valley is the most monumental expression of the western Buddhism. The cultural landscape and archaeological remains of the Bamiyan Valley continue to testify to the different cultural phases of its history. The management of the serial property is under the authority of the Ministry of Information and Culture (MoIC) and its relevant departments (Institute of Archaeology and the Department for the Preservation of Historical Monuments), as well as the Governor of the Bamiyan Province. The area contains numerous Buddhist monastic ensembles and sanctuaries, as well as fortified edifices from the Islamic period. Hierbij werden verschillende culturele invloeden geintegreerd in de Gandhara school van boeddhistische kunst. The Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley comprise a serial property consisting of eight separate sites within the Valley and its tributaries.
The numerous Buddhist monastic ensembles and sanctuaries, as well as fortified structures from the Islamic period, testify to the interchange of Indian, Hellenistic, Roman, Sasanian and Islamic influences.
Seen as a cultural landscape, the Bamiyan Valley, with its artistic and architectural remains, the traditional land use and the simple mud brick constructions continues to express its Outstanding Universal Value in terms of form and materials, location and setting,  but may be vulnerable in the face of development and requires careful conservation and management. The Ministry of Information and Culture has a provincial local office representative in Bamiyan. Carved into the Bamiyan Cliffs are the two niches of the giant Buddha statues (55m and 38m high) destroyed by the Taliban in 2001, and numerous caves forming a large ensemble of Buddhist monasteries, chapels and sanctuaries along the foothills of the valley dating from the 3rd to the 5th century C.E. There are 8 guards specifically protecting the site against vandalism and looting, with additional resources provided by the Ministry of Interior in the form of a dedicated police contingent for the protection of cultural property (Police unit 012).
The State Law on the Protection of Historical and Cultural Properties (Ministry of Justice, May 21st 2004)is in force and provides the basis for financial and technical resources. A Management Plan for the property is under preparation with the objective to prepare and implement a programme for the protection, conservation and presentation of the Bamiyan Valley, to undertake exploration and excavation of the archaeological remains, and to prepare and implement a programme for sustainable cultural tourism in the Valley.
Detailed conceptions of heavens and hells, a new pantheon, belief in reincarnation, and the doctrine of karma all eventually worked their way into the fabric of Chinese life as Buddhist ideas took hold and spread. Buddhism brought with it as well new types of behavior: forms of seated meditation, the practice of making offerings before images, Buddhist rites of consecration and confession, and even the new gesture of palms pressed together. By exposing Chinese to foreign missionaries and through the translation of foreign texts, Buddhism made contributions to the Chinese understanding of their own language and to the language itself; many expressions common in modern Chinese originated in Buddhist texts, and the recognition of the distinctive characteristics of the Chinese language, such as its dependence on tones, was also sparked by scrutiny of the Indian language in which Buddhist texts were couched.
The impact of Buddhism on Chinese material culture began immediately, with the first evidence we have of Buddhism in China in the first century, and continued long after the twelfth, when Buddhism ceased to be a major cultural force in India. Objects, ideas about objects, and behaviors associated with objects came with Buddhism to China, where they continued to change and evolve in response to new environments and the demands of a dynamic society with an immense capacity to manufacture, employ, and discard material things. Today in all areas where Chinese culture is present, Buddhism continues to hold a prominent place in local material culture.
This book attempts to give an overview of these developments by focusing on the histories of a number of objects that are representative of the major themes in the history of the influence of Buddhism on Chinese material culture. But before discussing the histories of particular objects, we turn first to trenchant Buddhist attitudes toward material things in general.
From the earliest strata of Buddhist texts to the present day, Buddhist monks have espoused an austere ideal of renunciation of the world of things.

Distinctions of wealth and poverty, noble and common are like a dream."8 Buddhist thinkers in India were drawn to this conception of the material world as illusory, and attacked notions of conventional reality with great enthusiasm.
In sum, whether in well-known sermons, technical ontological treatises, or monastic regulations, Buddhist teachings are suffused with a suspicion of sensual pleasure and a tendency to denigrate and renounce the material world. This was done in order to maintain a clear distinction between the objects associated with the austere Buddhist monk and those associated with other types of people devoted to the pursuit of money, goods, and material display.
The importance of giving to the monastic community is stressed repeatedly in Buddhist scriptures and buttressed by references to the fleeting nature of human existence and the relative unimportance of personal possessions in the greater scheme of things. Just as early Christians could draw on the story of the three wise men who brought precious gifts to the baby Jesus, Buddhist donors (and the monks who encouraged their donations) could draw on stories from the scriptures of great laypeople who gave spectacular gifts to the Buddha's community of monks.17 Further, even those familiar with the Buddhist ontology of matter were encouraged to give, while at the same time recognizing that their gifts "exist only as a conglomeration of causes and conditions, without a single dharma containing an inherent self. Outside of the silk and thread, there is no fabric."18 In other words, one could at once recognize the ultimate emptiness of all things and still make provisional use of them for a greater good by donating objects to the Buddhist cause. Simplicity and restraint were seldom important ideals in Buddhist art; Buddhist images and devotional objects were instead intended to provoke awe and devotion through spectacular displays of grandeur.
Specialists in Indian Buddhism may be able to distinguish shades of attitudes toward objects in different time periods of Indian Buddhism and to trace developments from one set of texts to another. But in China, Buddhist texts arrived in a haphazard fashion and were never placed in their proper chronological order, an arduous project that vexes even the most talented textual scholars today. Hence, from early on Buddhism both presented Chinese devotees with a strong tradition calling for the renunciation of material things and at the same time actively promoted the use of precious and mundane objects in certain specified contexts. Similarly, Indian Buddhist writings on the ephemerality and illusory nature of all material objects received great attention in China. The text I cited above, the Abhidharmakosa, treating the way in which the phenomenal world can be broken down into distinct elements, was a standard part of the training of a monk, and important Chinese monastic thinkers pondered the true nature of objects at length in their own writings.29 Buddhist notions of the emphemerality of the world and the fundamental tension between sensuous enjoyment of things and spiritual pursuits were not limited to monks. Through much of Chinese history, refined literary men fantasized about a simpler life in a mountain monastery away from the material trappings of high society, and when Buddhism appears in Chinese narrative, it is often to critique the material decadence of the secular world.
Archaeologists and art historians have documented countless Buddhist images from all periods of Chinese Buddhist history of all sizes and shapes, commissioned by people from all walks of life.
Indeed, the metal taken up by Buddhist images was so great that it was persistently coveted by the state. From medieval times up to the 1960s, the Chinese government repeatedly called for the melting down of Buddhist images to fill state coffers or provide metal for construction or the military. In 845, during Emperor Wuzong's sweeping persecution of Buddhism, the emperor issued an edict forbidding the use of gold, silver, copper, iron, and gems in the making of Buddhist images. First, many did not feel that wood and clay could adequately express respect for Buddhist deities; just as the emperor required precious objects in accordance with his position, so too did buddhas and bodhisattvas. Secondly, Buddhist images were seldom if ever only channels of communication between individual devotees and the deities they worshipped; they were at the same time attempts to win or assert social prestige. Monumental images of Buddhist figures commissioned at great expense and taking huge amounts of time and labor still hold a prominent place in the Chinese landscape, as do countless stupas, monasteries, and other Buddhist structures spread throughout the country. And the economic harvest of Buddhist philanthropy was applied to a large extent to ornament. Buddhist texts are replete with references both to the unbridled splendor of devotion and to ideals of renunciation, simplicity, and restraint. Normally, Buddhist writers felt little need to justify the opulence of Buddhist art and architecture. Monastic concerns to limit the personal property of monks, and an insistence by some monks on a plain monastic uniform of drab, simple garments, and even vegetarianism, can all be traced in part to the emphasis placed on renunciation and self-restraint in Buddhist doctrine. One approach to the history of the impact of Buddhism on Chinese material culture would be to examine the works of Chinese Buddhist thinkers with an eye to their treatment of wealth and of objects in general. And in the pages that follow, I devote much attention to the ways in which Buddhist doctrines influenced the history of material culture in China. There is, however, a danger of giving too much weight to the role of ideas in the formation and development of material culture.
Conversely, the histories of objects that seem at first glance to have nothing to do with Buddhism--bridges, or the tools of print technology--on closer inspection turn out to be intimately linked with Buddhist ideas and practices.

This is the approach I take below: a collection of the histories of particular objects, attitudes toward them, and ways in which they were used over long stretches of time that, taken together, reveal the complex and subtle ways in which Buddhism changed the material life of a civilization.
But before embarking on the details of particular objects, a few remarks on what the term material culture means and how it has been used by other scholars to study similar topics will help to clarify what follows. Archaeologist Michael Brian Schiffer has given more precision to the concept by defining artifacts as "phenomena produced, replicated, or otherwise brought wholly or partly to their present form through human means," thus including a wide array of objects such as art, food, clothing, and gardens, while excluding material things like the stars, natural rivers, and wild animals, which he terms "externs."48 An even more subtle nuance in the term material culture is the relationship between material objects and culture.
Others emphasize that in addition to reflecting culture, objects also play an integral part in shaping culture. To return to the ancient Chinese bronze, the manufacture of the object involved negotiations between the eventual owner of the bronze and the artisans who made it, in addition to a set of cultural assumptions about the significance of the bronze and technical knowledge passed down over generations about how to make a bronze.
In other words, in addition to exploring the ways in which artifacts reflect culture and the role they play more generally in all cultural performances, we can also look more specifically at the cultural figurations that center on specific objects. It is closer to the field of textual studies in that material culture studies have developed independently in various fields relatively isolated one from the other. It is only recently that the field has become self-conscious and that scholars have begun to pool techniques and data from diverse disciplines for insights into the study of the role of objects in culture. This concern grew in large measure from their overriding project of mapping out the evolution of human culture; artifacts are useful for categorizing and comparing different societies.
In its extreme form, "hyper diffusionism," diffusionist theory attempts to trace all developments in material culture the world over to individual discoveries in a small set of core cultures from which all others borrowed.53 Neither evolution nor diffusionist theory have been abandoned entirely, nor should they be. Archaeologists of colonial North America have shown, for instance that the houses built by free blacks in the seventeenth century share characteristics with West African houses and are distinct in structure from houses made by European-Americans built at the same time, indicating the degree to which African Americans at that early date consciously maintained a distinct identity.55 All of these themes--development, diffusion, and cultural identity--are key in understanding the impact of Buddhism on Chinese material culture.
Hence, it is useful to write the "biographies" or "life histories" of things.56 Like archaeologists and anthropologists, art historians can be said to have been studying material culture all along, well before the term came into common use. Hundreds of nearly identical icons packed into a temple, prayer beads fingered by crass patrons or pious peasants, the robes worn by ordinary monks and nuns all seem better left to archaeologists, historians of popular culture, or economists than to mainstream historians of religion, particularly since the study of such objects inevitably involves discussions of techniques of manufacture and often economic negotiations between craftsmen and client, both of which seem far removed from the search for distinctively religious ideas and values.
When artifacts contradict scriptural pronouncements, the tendency has been to suggest convoluted explanations for the objects rather than accept that doctrines laid out in scriptures may not reflect the way Buddhism was practiced.
More commonly still, archaeological evidence is ignored entirely, even in areas where it provides the only evidence we have, as in the case of the disposal of the dead in early Buddhist monasticism. Not only do objects play important roles in all forms of religious activity, but people who engage in religious activities in general recognize the importance of things and comment on them at length, leaving behind a wealth of material for historians willing to explore the place of material culture in religion.
When we examine how the Bible was used, for instance, we see that in addition to its content, the Bible was also an important cultural symbol.
Similarly, historians of medieval religion have looked to images not just for their content, for what they depict, but also for how they were used, how they fit into a culture of prayer in which it was important to have ready access to devotional images at all times, even when traveling.75 A focus on material culture also reveals the extent of the impact of religious movements on culture.
After the Cultural Revolution, few academic fields in China have developed as rapidly and with as much success as archaeology. Major Chinese archaeology journals appear monthly, packed with new finds, many Buddhist, from all parts of China.76 Artifacts aside, poetry, novels, miscellaneous notes, and Buddhist texts of various types and periods all contain information on Buddhist objects. Similarly, non-Buddhist materials from later periods often allow us to determine the role of Buddhism, as opposed to other distinct traditions, in the history of individual objects. China, the stereotype runs, has always been a fundamentally down-to-earth, materially minded culture, unable to accept the purer, more ethereal values of the more spiritual culture of India. This is an idea that is reinforced in part by Chinese Buddhists themselves who have always considered Chinese Buddhism a pale reflection of the golden age of Buddhism at the time of the Buddha; Chinese monks were always ready to lament the degeneracy of the monastic order in China. Buddhist monks in ancient India were no less "materialistic" than their Chinese epigones; many of the objects and attitudes toward objects discussed in this book came to China with Buddhism from India. A small group of erudite monks within the Buddhist tradition has championed the idea that the highest spiritual goals can only be pursued in isolation from the material world. Hence, unless we appreciate the place of material culture in Chinese Buddhist history, our picture of this history remains skewed and incomplete.

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