Online Lecture: Dr Zsuzsanna Gulácsi, ‘Sideways-Oriented Images of Manichaean and Armenian Liturgical Books’, East of Byzantium Lecture, 29 January 2021, 3pm (EST)

East Central Asian Manichaean sources discovered at Kocho from the Uygur era of Manichaean history (755-1024 CE) constitute prominent examples of Silk Road art and text. Despite the closeness of Chinese culture and the dominant presence of Buddhism in the region during this era, Manichaean books maintain a distinctly “West Asiatic” character. In order to further explore the latter, this study assesses the codicological similarities between Manichaean manuscripts from East Central Asia (that were written in Parthia, Middle Persian, Sogdian, and Uygur languages) and the earliest Eastern Christian and Islamic manuscripts from Syro-Mesopotamia (that were written in Syrian, Armenian, Arabic, and Persian languages between the 5th and 11th centuries). The two groups compare favorably based on a variety of codicological criteria. These similarities point beyond the mid 3rd-century Syro-Mesopotamian roots of Uygur-era Manichaean book culture and indicate that there was a continued contact between the Manichaean communities in East Central Asia and their Mesopotamian homeland well into the medieval period.

Zsuzsanna Gulácsi is professor of art history, Asian studies, and comparative religious studies at Northern Arizona University. She is a historian of religious art, specializing in the contextualized art historical study of pan-Asiatic religions that adapted their arts to a variety of cultures as they spread throughout the continent. Her research has been supported by the National Humanities Center, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Scholarship, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Philosophical Society, the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and most recently the Getty Foundation. Her many publications include Manichaean Art in Berlin Collections (Brepols, 2001), Medieval Manichaean Book Art: A Codicological Study of Iranian and Turkic Illuminated Book Fragments (Brill, 2005), Mani’s Pictures: The Didactic Images of the Manichaeans from Sasanian Mesopotamia to Uygar Central Asia and Tang-Ming China (Brill, 2016), and the edited volume Language, Society, and Religion in the World of the Turks: Festschrift for Larry Clark at Seventy-Five (Brepols, 2018).

This lecture will take place live on ZOOM, followed by a question and answer period. Please register to receive the Zoom link. An email with the relevant Zoom information will be sent 1–2 hours ahead of the lecture. Registration closes at 10:00 AM (EST) on January 29, 2021. REGISTER FOR LECTURE

EAST OF BYZANTIUM is a partnership between the Arthur H. Dadian and Ara Oztemel Chair of Armenian Art at Tufts University and the Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art and Culture at Hellenic College Holy Cross in Brookline, MA. It explores the cultures of the eastern frontier of the Byzantine Empire in the late antique and medieval periods.


Published by Roisin Astell

Roisin Astell received a First Class Honours in History of Art at the University of York (2014), under the supervision of Dr Emanuele Lugli. After spending a year learning French in Paris, Roisin then completed an MSt. in Medieval Studies at the University of Oxford (2016), where she was supervised by Professor Gervase Rosser and Professor Martin Kauffmann. In 2017, Roisin was awarded a CHASE AHRC studentship as a doctoral candidate at the University of Kent’s Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, under the supervision of Dr Emily Guerry.

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