Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Ruiyao Gong Humanities and Social Science

Buddhist Statues and Transformation Images: The Peacock King at Dazu

The Dazu Rock Carving is the only Buddhist cave site in China representing the development of Buddhist teachings during the Song dynasty (960- 1279). My research mainly investigates the Buddhist statues of Dazu site, with a special focus on Mahamayuri Vidyaraja, or the Great Peacock King at Baodingshan, Dazu. The Great Peacock King, a deity who can cure all evils in Esoteric Buddhism and who always rides on a peacock, is rarely depicted in other Buddhist caves. Dazu has three statues of him, however, at Baodingshan, Northern Mountain and Shimen Mountain. The adjacent site, Anyue, has another one. More importantly, these four iconic images are extremely similar, with the exception of differences in transformation images (bianxiang), the narrative images of exemplary stories derived from Buddhist scripture at the rear of each statue. The similarity of formal language among these Great Peacock King statues and the diversity to their associated transformation images is at the heart of my research interests. When the statues of the Great Peacock King combines with narrative images at background as an ensemble, do they convey a new, integral meaning with each combination?

Message To Sponsor

The SURF fellowship provides me a precious opportunity to pursue my academic dream and passion. To initiate a self-design project and to do an independent research with the help from SURF, the Anselm Fund donors, and my mentor are an extremely valuable experience for me to apply to graduate school. I will have a complete experience of every step of an independent research, which will largely benefit my future study in this field. In addition, the fellowship allows me to personally visit the Dazu site in China to obtain first-hand resources of the artworks that I work on. This is such an amazing opportunity as an undergraduate.
Profile image of Ruiyao Gong
Major: History of Art, Buddhist Studies (Minor)
Mentor: Patricia Berger, History of Art
Sponsor: Anselm
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