This talk will query the ontological status of two classes of conceptually and materially-complex medieval objects: namely steeles and offering bowls initially made in the Irrawaddy Basin in Myanmar and eventually re-made in the Indo-Tibetan world. Are these objects best understood as sculptures, as concrete embodiments of revered beings, or as vessels with richly carved exteriors and secret interiors? By using a multi-pronged approach, including conducting paleoradiology exams, Chanchani will shed new light on materiality, mobility, and identity and reflect on acts of reuse as reclamations in times of scarcity.

A Global Middle Ages lecture.
Nachiket Chanchani is associate professor in the Department of History of Art at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He studies South Asian, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian art, architecture, and visual culture. He has authored three books—Mountain Temples and Temple Mountains: Architecture, Religion, and Nature in the Central Himalayas (2019, reprinted 2021); Amaruśataka and the Lives of Indian Love Poems (2022); and India’s Composite Heritage (2022, reprinted 2023)— as well as many journal articles and opinion pieces in published in leading newspapers. He has been involved with projects at several museums and his research has been supported by numerous fellowships.