When the 11th-century poet Ferdowsi reaches the reigns of the Parthian Kings in his epic chronicle of the kings of Iran, he admits,

 

کزیشان جز از نام نشنیده‌ام
نه در نامه‌ی خسروان دیده‌ام
“About them I heard nothing but their name,
I saw nothing about them in the book of the Khosrows”

Just around the corner from Rome’s Pantheon, on the Via di Sant’Ignazio, is the famed Biblioteca Casanatense. Among its precious  books and manuscripts is an album of 76 striking watercolours made  in Goa around 1540, the work of an anonymous Indian painter for an unknown Portuguese patron.

It’s a well-worn assertion, even a cliché, that art and spirituality are inextricably linked. A concrete representation of the subject for religious meditation is, we could say, a visible aid to devotion: not so much the object itself, but what it symbolizes, which is important to the viewer (or listener if it’s music).

Longmen's Stone Buddhas and Cultural Heritage: When Antiquity Met Modernity in China, Dong Wang (Rowman & Littlefield, June 2020)
Longmen’s Stone Buddhas and Cultural Heritage: When Antiquity Met Modernity in China, Dong Wang (Rowman & Littlefield, June 2020)

This thoroughly researched book provides the first comprehensive history of how a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Central China Plain, Longmen’s caves and the Buddhist statuary of Luoyang, was rediscovered in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.