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Devotion to Tārā in Tangut Buddhism—based on an art exploration of Tārā murals in Dunhuang caves

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Doctor of Philosophy in Religious Studies


Long, Darui
Zhiru, Shi
Shakya, Miroj


This dissertation aims to reveal Tangut Buddhists’ devotion to Tārā through a detailed art analysis of Tārā murals in Tangut caves from the Dunhuang area, together with religious and historical discussions on Tangut Buddhism and the Tangut caves in Dunhuang.

Dunhuang was a sacred site for Tangut Buddhists and Tangut-occupied Dunhuang for nearly one and a half centuries. Over eighty caves were created and reconstructed by Tanguts in the Dunhuang area. The three Tārā murals are painted in cave no. 5 and cave no. 2 at Eastern Thousand Buddha Caves and cave no. 4 at Yulin Caves. The dissertation primarily discusses the significance of the role of Tārā in Tangut Buddhism based on the contents of the three Tārā murals, with supplemental information from the portraits of their patrons and history. Through detailed art analysis of the three Tārā murals, this dissertation also summarizes attributes of Tangut Tantric art to add depth to the understanding of Tangut Tantric art and its history.

Degree Granter

University of the West



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