Negotiating secular and sacred in medieval art : Christian, Islamic, and Buddhist
Offering original analysis of the convergence between 'sacred' and 'secular' in medieval works of art and architecture, this collection explores both the usefulness and limitations of these terms for describing medieval attitudes.
The modern concepts of 'sacred' and 'secular' are shown to be effective as scholarly tools, but also to risk imposing false dichotomies. The authors consider medieval material culture from a broad perspective, addressing works of art and architecture from England to Japan, and from the seventh to the fifteenth century. Although the essays take a variety of methodological approaches they are unified in their emphasis on the continuing and necessary dialectic between sacred and secular.
The contributors consciously frame their interpretations in terms and perspectives derived from the Middle Ages, thereby demonstrating how the present art-historical terminology and conceptual frameworks can obscure the complexity of medieval life and material culture.
The resonance among essays opens possibilities for productive cross-cultural study of an issue that is relevant to a diversity of cultures and sub-periods. Introducing an innovative approach to the literature of the field, this volume complicates and enriches our understanding of social realities across a broad spectrum of medieval worlds.