ARTH 237:

Spring 2011, Online

Professor Chandra Reedy
323 Alison Hall
Office Hours: By appointment




Course Objectives

Students will gain a better understanding of the basic principles, subject matter, and functions of Tibetan art, including the religious basis that underlies most Tibetan art, architecture, and decorative arts. After a discussion of the introduction of Buddhism into Tibet in the 7th century, we will explore Mahayana Buddhism and Tibetan images of the historical Buddha. We will then move into a discussion of the Vajrayana (tantric) Buddhist practices that developed in Tibet, and the types of images often portrayed there (such as Bodhisattvas, celestial Buddhas and Paradise scenes, Mahasiddhas and Arhats, wrathful deities and protectors, yab-yum and other esoteric images, mandalas, and historical portraits of religious teachers). We will also discuss the native Tibetan Bon-pö religion and its images, the technology of image construction, and objects of material culture such as ritual objects and Tibetan carpets.

After an overview of Tibetan architecture, we will focus on some specific monastic complexes and the art they contain. The first group of sites dates to the 11th-14th centuries, and includes the period of the “second diffusion of Buddhism” into Tibet. The second group of sites dates to the 15th-19th centuries, including periods when religious reform efforts created another cultural renaissance. We will examine issues of subject matter, meaning, function, style, and the relationship of Tibetan art to the arts of India, Nepal, China, and Central Asia.



There is one required textbook, Art of Tibet, by Robert E. Fisher, 1997, London: Thames and Hudson. It is available for purchase through the UD bookstore. Supplementary on-line journal articles, exhibitions, and other web-based materials on Tibetan art, architecture, and culture are found on the course web site via the Tutorials and Online Resources icon. Required readings for a class session should be done prior to viewing that session. They are listed on the course calendar found below and on the Calendar icon on the homepage.

Assignments, Examinations, and Grading:

There are 100 points available for the course, distributed as follows:

Three short (one-half page) writing assignments distributed throughout the course help to integrate lecture and reading materials and to prepare for exams; each one is worth 6 points. The descriptions of the assignments are found via the Assignments tool on the left menu bar, and that same tool should also be used to turn in the assignments. In addition, there is one required tutorial, worth 7 points. It is found under the Tutorials and Online Resources icon, and is the only tutorial marked Required.

There will be two mid-term exams and one final exam, all non-cumulative. All tests will draw on both lectures and required readings. Each exam will contribute 25 points towards the final course grade.This course requires learning a significant amount of new terminology, definitions, place names, and historic events, and being able to identify and interpret many new images of works of art and architecture. Please be prepared to put the appropriate effort into your reading, lecture viewing and notetaking, and exam preparation.

All students need to fill out UD Online's Exam Scheduler to sign up for an exam location. Most Newark students will take their exams at the UD Online Resource Center, located at 850 Library Avenue, Suite 200. If that is where you have scheduled exams, for the first two exams, testing is available during the week listed on the course syllabus on a walk-in basis during the testing hours listed on your Exam Scheduler. Please note the hours are not the same for each day of the week, so plan accordingly.

Final exams have an altered schedule, so please check the UD Online site for testing hours, or consult your Exam Scheduler.

The examination process for students not testing in Newark (i.e., students testing in Wilmington, Dover, Georgetown, worksites, community colleges, or high schools) will be by either computer-based or paper exams proctored by arrangement with UD Online. Please make these arrangements in conjunction with the UD Online office at the start of the semester, so that exams and proctors will be ready by the time exam week arrives. Then consult your Exam Scheduler as to where and when you can take each exam.

Since testing dates and times vary depending upon location of the testing centers you have signed up for, all students are responsible for filling out the UD Online Exam Scheduler at the sart of the semester, then consulting it to determine where and when you can take the exam. The instructor does not have copies of Exam Schedulers, so cannot help in arrangements or in making sure that you know where and when to go for exams. The Exam Scheduler, and other exam information, is found at:

Make-up exams can only be scheduled if you have a doctor's note indicating you were too ill to take the exam during the scheduled exam week.

If a student does not take his/her exam as scheduled, it is the student's responsibility to contact the instructor to request permission to reschedule the exam. No exam will be rescheduled by the UD Online office without approval from the instructor e-mailed to

• 92-100 A
• 90-91 A-
• 86-89 B+
• 82-85 B
• 80-81 B-
• 76-79 C+
• 72-75 C
• 70-71 C-
• 66-69 D+
• 62-65 D
• 60-61 D-
• <60 F

Final Course Grade: The final course grade is arrived at by totaling all points received in the course. If a score on the final total is on the borderline between two grades, a .5 or above will round up to the higher grade (for example, 89.5 will rounded up to an A- rather than down to a B+).


Mon. Feb. 7
Complete Exam Scheduler

View Start Here modules, explore course Sakai site and links
Online Video Tutorial: Tibetan Painting & Monastic Life
Lecture 1: Introduction

Wed. Feb. 9
Lecture 2: The Beginnings of Tibetan Buddhism
Fisher, pages 11-18

Mon. Feb. 14

Lecture 3: Mahayana Buddhism: The Historical Buddha; and Vajrayana (Tantric) Buddhist Practices
Fisher, pages 19-22, 29-35
Online Tutorial: Deciphering Buddha Imagery

Wed. Feb. 16
Lecture 4: Bodhisattvas; and Celestial Buddhas and Paradise Scenes

Complete Symbols Tutorial and Quizzes, Due by 10 p.m.

Mon. Feb. 21
Lecture 5: Mahasiddhas and Arhats; and Wrathful Deities and Protectors
Fisher, pages 50-67

Wed. Feb. 23
Lecture 6: Yab-Yum Images and Esoteric Practices; and Mandalas
View Video: Kalachakra: The Wheel of Time

Mon. Feb. 28
Lecture 7: Four Main Orders of Tibetan Buddhism; and Historical Portraits of Teachers
Fisher, pages 23-28, 96-104

Wed. March 2
Lecture 8: The Bon-po Religion

Online Video: Hidden Treasures of Bon
Writing Assignment #1 Due by 10:00 p.m.

Week of March 7 - 11 is Exam #1 week (lectures 1-8); Check your personal Exam Scheduler for specific days and times when your exam will be available, and to identify where you go to take the exam:

Mon. March 14
Lecture 9: Construction of Images: Paintings, Fabric
Fisher, pages 104-115

Wed. March 16
Lecture 10: Construction of Images: Clay, Metal
Fisher, pages 115-124

Mon. March 21
Lecture 11: Tibetan Nomads

Wed. March 23
Lecture 12: Tibetan Carpets


Mon. April 4
Lecture 13: Ritual Objects
Fisher, pages 90-96

Wed. April 6
Lecture 14: Tibetan Architecture
Fisher, pages 75-90
Online Tutorial: Tibetan Construction Technology

Mon. April 11
Lecture 15: 11th-14th Century Styles and Monastery Complexes: Tabo
Fisher, pages 125-141

Wed. April 13
Lecture 16: Alchi Monastery Complex
Fisher, pages 142-152
Writing Assignment #2 Due by 10 p.m

Week of April 18 - 22: Prepare for and take Exam #2 (lectures 9-16); Check your personal Exam Scheduler for specific days and times when your exam will be available, and to identify where you go to take the exam:

Mon. April 25
Lecture 17: Lamaruyu, Spituk, Samkar, Tholing, and Yemar
Online Tutorial: Wheel of Life

Wed. April 27
Lecture 18: Drathang and Kyangphu; and Shalu Monastery and the Yuan-Sakyapa Painting Style
Fisher, pages 152-164

Mon. May 2
Lecture 19: Politics and the History of Tibetan Buddhist Monastic Complexes
View Video: The Dalai Lama and the Rituals of Reincarnation

Wed. May 4

Lecture 20: 15th-19th century Styles and Monastery Complexes: Phiyang, Shey, Tsaparang, and Gyantse

Lecture 21: Sakya, Ngor, Riwoche, and Other Central and Eastern Tibetan Complexes

Fisher, pages 167-183

Mon. May 9

Lecture 22: The Potala Palace of Lhasa
Fisher, pages 194-196

Wed. May 11
Lecture 23: Newer Tibetan Styles
Fisher, pages 188-193, 197-214

Mon. May 16
Lecture 24: Sino-Tibetan Art
Fisher, pages 183-188
Writing Assignment #3 Due by 10 p.m.

Final Exam Period, May 19-20, May 23-25 (Newark) (Lectures 17-24); Check your personal Exam Scheduler for specific days and times when your exam will be available, and to identify where you go to take the exam: