Book Series Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum : Series Archaeologica et Iconographica, vol. 1

Manichaean Art in Berlin Collections

Z. Gulácsi

  • Pages: 350 p.
  • Size:210 x 297 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2001

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-50649-4
  • Hardback
  • Available

This book is a comprehensive, descriptive catalogue of positively identified Manichaean artifacts housed in Berlin.


"The strictly descriptive appraoach means that this beautifully produced and systematically written catalogue will remain a definitive handbook for long years to come. ... This catalogue is a very fitting tribute to the importance of the Berlin material collected during the four expeditions."    (Dr. Lilla Russell-Smith in Circle of Inner Asian Art Newsletter, issue 15, June 2002, p.57-59)

"This beautiful book is an important contribution to scholarship on Manichaeism and should find a place in every research library."   (B.A. Pearson in Religious Stdies Review, vol.29, n°1, January 2003, p. 96)


The world's richest source of Manichaean texts and works of art is the Turfan region in East Central Asia, and the largest collection of such artifacts is found in Berlin. The Berlin Turfan collections resulted from four German expeditions that took place between 1902 and 1914. The commencement of the philological study of the thousands of manuscript fragments from Turfan led to the recognition of the first known, original Manichaean writings. Among these primary sources, Manichaean works of art were found as well. A sample of them, the best preserved items, appeared in two studies by Albert von Le Coq and a few pieces are frequently exhibited internationally and appear in catalogues published by the Berlin Museum of Indian Art. Besides these efforts, Turfan Manichaean art has enjoyed little art historical attention. A Manichaean artistic corpus has never been systematically identified among the Turfan remains. Artifacts belonging to this corpus have not been catalogued or examined by art historians as a whole. This book is a comprehensive, descriptive catalogue of positively identified Manichaean artifacts housed in Berlin. The majority of them belong to the State Museums of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, housed in the Museum for Indian Art, Berlin. In addition numerous illuminated book fragments are found within a manuscript collection belonging to the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and is deposited in the Berlin State Library of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. From the two Turfan collections, 93 item-groups have been selected according to a specific set of criteria. The main entries of this catalogue are organized according to media and are presented as illuminated book fragments, remnants of leather book covers, painted and embroidered textiles and fragments of wall paintings. The largest group, paper fragments, includes 68 pieces and is sub-divided by book-format - codex, scroll and pustake (palm leaf format).