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The Feilaifeng Research Project

Antonio José Mezcua López, Universidad de Granada, Summer Fellow 2014

My research at Dumbarton Oaks was very fruitful. Initially, I had planned to explore the accounts of Feilaifeng, the limestone peak near Hangzhou, China, from the foundation of the Lingyin monastery to the Qing dynasty. Reading the range of accounts found in local gazetteers and other literary sources about the mountain enabled me to track the changes in the perceptions of the mountain over time. Within this broad survey, I focused on questions concerning the relation of the peak’s unusually shaped natural rocks to the Yuan dynasty Buddhist carvings found on the mountain, questions that I also hope to explore on site. I also used my time at Dumbarton Oaks to look for other instances in Chinese art history that connect the Buddhist tradition with scholar rock culture. I found that some Luohan portraits also show Buddhist images in the context of strange landscape formations. This suggests that the fusion of scholar rocks and Buddhist images at Feilaifeng is far from an isolated phenomenon, albeit a very particular one.