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Visualizing Pilgrimage And Mapping Experience: Mount Wutai On The Silk Road

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Chapter Summary

The term ?map? merits some unpacking, especially in the context of a discussion of Mount Wutai as it is depicted in Mogao Cave 61 in Dunhuang in western China. This mural is not a map in the same way that a road map is, but neither is it strictly a representation of landscape. In the case of the map of Mount Wutai, there are several registers or layers of meaning: the geographic layer; religious register; social layer. Of these three layers, the primary focus of the chapter is on the social layer, and specifically on evidence of social interaction in the map. The social interactions depicted make the map a guide to religious practice, its meanings and contexts. But before addressing this topic in more depth, this chapter presents a sketch of the history of the cave-temple and the mural. It also briefly considers the other registers of meaning.

Keywords: Dunhuang; map of Mount Wutai; Mogao Cave 61; religious practice; social interactions; western China



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