Marylin Martin Rhie

Jessie Wells Post Professor Emerita of Art and Professor Emerita of East Asian Studies

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Ph.D., M.A., University of Chicago


Marylin Rhie taught courses in Asian art history for more than 40 years at Smith, including co-teaching interdisciplinary courses with professors in the religion and history departments, such as Chinese Buddhism and Buddhist Art, Japanese Buddhism and Buddhist Art, The Hindu Gods in Text and Image, and Confucian and Daoist Thought and Art in China. Her main research is in Buddhist art, primarily that of China and Tibet, but she has also pioneered various studies on the interrelationships between the Buddhist art of India, Central Asia, China, Korea and Japan. In collaboration with Professor Robert Thurman of Columbia University, she co-created and wrote the catalog for the internationally renowned exhibition Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet, which toured the United States, England, Germany, Spain, Japan and Taiwan in 11 venues during the 1990s. The book catalog for this exhibition has been translated into five languages. Since the late 1990s she has been writing the five-volume series Early Buddhist Art of China and Central Asia, which presents a comprehensive, detailed research study of the earliest Buddhist art in Central and East Asia from the first to the mid-fifth century CE. This series is published by Brill Academic Press, Leiden, and, so far Volumes I, II and III have been published.

Selected Publications


Picturing Enlightenment: Tibetan Tangkas in the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, editor and author of the catalog, Amherst and New Haven, 2013.

Early Buddhist Art of China and Central Asia, Leiden, Vol. I (1999), Vol. II (2002), Vol. III (2010).

A Shrine for Tibet, The Alice C. Kandell Collection, co-authored with Robert Thurman, New York, 2009.

Worlds of Transformation: Tibetan Art of Wisdom and Compassion, co­-author with Robert Thurman, New York, 1999.

Wisdom and Compassion: The Sacred Art of Tibet, co­-author with Robert Thurman, New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1991, 1992, 1996 (expanded English edition); German edition 1996; Spanish edition 1996, Japanese edition 1997, Chinese edition 1998.

Interrelationships Between the Buddhist Art of China and the Art of India and Central Asia from 618-755 AD, monograph supplementum to Annali, Istituto Universitario Orientale, Naples, Vol. 48,1988.

The Fo-kuang ssu: Literary Evidences and Buddhist Images, New York, 1977.

Articles and Essays

“Buddhist Art for the World”, essay in The Buddhist World, London and New York: Routledge, 2016, pp. 261-281.

“Iconography of the Five Buddhas: Binglingsi Cave 169, Gandhara, Hadda, and the Tanyao Caves at Yungang,” Kristi, Vol. 3, 2011, pp. 31-50.

“Aspects of the Two Colossal Buddhas at Bamiyan,” in Xuanzang and the Silk Route, Lokesh Chandra and Radha Banerjee, eds., New Delhi, 2008, pp. 1-29.

“Identification and Interpretation of Some Sets of Multiple Buddhas in Gandharan Art” (with reference to representations in China and Central Asia), Kristi, Vol. I, No. 1, 2008, pp. 38-77.

“Mahakala: Some Sculptures and Tangkas in the Rubin Museum of Art”, essay in The Demonic Divine, R. Linrothe and J. Watt, Chicago, 2004, pp. 44-98.

“Buddhist Art in China,” essay in Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Robert E. Buswell, ed., 2 vols., New York, 2004, pp. 143-154.

“Eleventh-Century Monumental Sculpture in the Tsang Region,” in Tibetan Art, towards a definition of Style, Singer and Denwood, eds., London, 1997, pp. 38-51.

“A Periodization of the Early T’ang Caves at Tun-huang from 618-642 A.D.: Formation of the Early T’ang Style,” Monumenta Serica, Vol. XLIII, 1995, pp. 279-336.

Chapter 9 (Art of India before 1100) in Vol. I, pp. 364-393; chapter 20 (Art of India after 1100) in Vol. II, pp. 820-833, textbook Art History, Marilyn Stokstad et al, New York, 1995.

“The Statue of Songzen Gampo in the Potala, Lhasa,” Orientalia Iosephi Tucci Memoriae Dicata, Serie Orientale Roma, LVI, 3, 1988, Rome, pp. 1201-1219.

Essay on the scholarly developments in the art of Asia since 1955, Encyclopedia of World Art, Supplementum, Vol. XVI, New York, 1983, pp. 27-39.

“A T’ang Period Stele Inscription and Cave XXI at T’ien-lung shan,” Archives of Asian Art, Vol. XXVIII, 1974-75, pp. 6-33.

“The Sculpture of T’íen-lung shan: Reconstruction and Dating,” Artibus Asiae, XXVII, 3, 1965, pp. 189-237 (also published as a monograph in Artibus Asiae Reprint Series), co-authored with Harry A. Vanderstappen.