This lecture will provide an overview of the influence of Iranian religions and political and visual cultures on Central Asia, particularly Buddhism and the Tarim Basin. Focusing primarily on visual and archaeological evidence, the lecture will examine the role that religious traditions, cultural forms, and visualities originating from or connected with Persia and the Iranian world played within the broader geographical sphere of Central Asia, with an emphasis on the Tarim Basin. The lecture will approach this problem from a variety of standpoints, including the movement of objects and people, the use and integration of Persian-Iranian visual or cultural forms as an Afro-Eurasian idiom of prestige, and the competition between religions in these regions.
Matthew Canepa is Professor of Art History and Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Presidential Chair in Art History and Archaeology of Ancient Iran at the Department of Art History at University of California, Irvine. His research focuses on the intersection of art, ritual, and power in the eastern Mediterranean, Persia and the wider Iranian world. His recent publications include: Matthew Canepa. The Iranian Expanse: Transforming Royal Identity through Landscape, Architecture, and the Built Environment 550 BCE-642 CE. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2018; Matthew Canepa. “Theorizing Cross-Cultural Interaction among the Late Antique and Early Medieval Mediterranean, Near East and Asia.” Ars Orientalis 38 (2010): 7-29; and Matthew Canepa. The Two Eyes of the Earth: Art and Ritual of Kingship between Rome and Sasanian Iran. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.