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Howard, Angela


Buddhist Art of China and Central Asia
Ph.D., IFA, New York University

Phone: (848) 932-1322

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Biographical Information:

Professor Howard’s teaching spans Chinese and Japanese art. Her research, however, has focused primarily on the development of Buddhist art in China, as signaled by her first book, The Imagery of the Cosmological Buddha (Leiden: E.J.Brill, 1986). Since 1985 Dr. Howard has been particularly involved with the Buddhist art of southwest China (Sichuan and Yunnan).howardbook Her work recording Buddhist cave and cliff sculptures in southwestern China has been funded by a series of NEH Fellowships and led to two important articles: “Tang Buddhist Sculpture of Sichuan: Unknown and Forgotten,” Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, 60 (1988): 1-164 and “The Dharani Pillar of Kunming, Yunnan. A Legacy of Esoteric Buddhism and Burial Rites of the Bai People in the Kingdom of Dali (937-1253), Artibus Asiae, 57, 1 / 2 (1997): 33. Most recently, in Summit of Treasures, Buddhist Cave Art of Dazu, China (Trumbull, CT: Weatherhill, Inc., 2001), Dr. Howard published the result of fifteen year research on the monumental cave complexes of the Baodingshan site at Dazu, Sichuan.

Since 1998 Dr. Howard has turned her interest to the Buddhist art of northwest China, traveling along the Gansu corridor to study less known Buddhist sites (Jintasi, Wenshushan, Tiantishan) which she believes preceded the art of famous Dunhuang. The outcome of this involvement was the article “Liang Patronage of Buddhist Art in the Gansu Corridor during the Fourth Century and the Transformation of a Central Asian Style,” in Between Han and Tang, Religious Art and Archaeology of a Transformative Period, Wu Hung ed., (Beijing: Cultural Relics Publishing House, 2000): 92-107. Her study of the Gansu corridor led further west to Central Asia. Dr. Howard’s present research focuses on the Buddhist cave temples of Kucha, an ancient Kingdom along the Northern Silk Route which she first visited in 1998. In the summer 2002, together with Professor Li Chongfeng, Beijing University she conducted a graduate seminar at the site of Kizil (in Kucha) through a grant by the Henry Luce Foundation China On-Site Seminar Program grant, sponsored by the Asian Cultural Council, New York. From May-July 2003, Dr. Howard taught the graduate seminar “Revisiting the Buddhist Caves at Kucha: New Evidence Demands a New Approach” at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universitat Heidelberg, Germany. Her latest publication on Central Asian Buddhism is a review of Marylin Martin Rhie, Early Buddhist Art of China and Central Asia: The Eastern Chin and Sixteen Kingdoms Period in China, Tumshuk, Kucha and Karashar in Central Asia, vol. 2 (Leiden:E.J. Brill, 2002), in Artibus Asiae vol. LXII, No. 2 (2002): 283-292. In May-June 2006, supported by an Asian Cultural travel grant, Dr. Howard returned to Kucha to do work at the various Buddhist sites.


Dr. Howard in a Mazabaha cave, Kucha, Xinjiang, Summer 2006

Dr. Howard was hired in 1999 by the Asian Department, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, as Special Consultant in Buddhist Art, to organize with other curators the exhibition China: The Dawn of a Golden Age, 200-750 AD, October 12, '04 - Jan. 23, '05. In this capacity, she traveled several times to China visiting major museums to select the Buddhist sculpture in the exhibition. Dr. Howard also contributed the essay "Buddhist Art in China" and most of the entries on the Buddhist sculpture in the accompanying catalogue.

Dr. Howard was the Senior Western Editor as well as a contributor to Chinese Sculpture, co-authored by Wu Hung, Yang Hong, and Li Song, in the series The Culture and Civilization of China (New Haven-London and Beijing: Yale University Press and Foreign Language Press, 2006).


Dr. Howard at Baodingshan, Dazu, in front of the Parinirvana, June 2001.


"In Support of a New Chronology for the Kizil Mural Paintings," Archives of Asian Art, 44 (1991): 68-83

"Buddhist Cave Sculpture of the Northern Qi Dynasty. Shaping a New Style, Formulating New Iconographies," Archives of Asian Art, 49 (1996): 6-25

"The Development of Buddhist Sculpture in Sichuan. The Making of an Indigenous Art," and "The Development of Buddhist Sculpture in Yunnan. Syncretic Art of a Frontier Kingdom," in The Flowering of a Foreign Faith, New Studies in Chinese Buddhist Art, Janet Baker ed., (Mumbai, India: Marg Publications, 1998): 118-145

"The Eight Brilliant Kings of Wisdom of Southwest China," RES, 35 (Spring 1999): 92-107

“Reconstructing the Original Location of a Group of Sculptures in the University of Pennsylvania Museum,” Orientations (February 2001): 32-39

"Pluralism of Styles in Sixth-centry China: A Reaffirmation of Indian Models," Ars Orientalis, forthcoming 2007

Current Interests & Research:

Buddhist art of the ancient Kingdom of Kucha (200-650) along the Northern Silk Route of Central Asia

Undergraduate Classes Taught:

Introduction to East Asian Art
--Buddhist Art of Asia
--Cave Temples of China
--Chinese Sculpture
--Chinese Painting
--Art of Early China (seminar)
-->Survey of Japanese Art
--Japanese Painting
--From Text to Image in Japanese Art (seminar)
--Buddhist Sacred Texts and Art (seminar).

Contact Us

Voorhees Hall
71 Hamilton Street
New Brunswick, NJ, 08901

P  848-932-7041

F 732-932-1261
departmental email