March 1, 2014
This review article evaluates recent Chinese publications (5 books and 30 articles) on Mayidari Juu (Maitreya Monastery, Ch. Meidaizhao 美岱召), in Inner Mongolia, China) – a remarkable fortified Tibetan Buddhist monastery that has preserved sixteenth- to nineteenth-century mural paintings and architecture. Its study is not only important for the history of the Tümed Mongols, but also for the history of Mongol monasteries, art, architecture, religion, society, economy, and funerary practices. The recent books reviewed here, correspond to a new campaign of restoration of the monastery, and reflect the modern revalorisation of Inner Mongol tangible heritage. Besides introducing recently discovered archives, they provide excellent quality photographs of the murals and framework décor, as well as new hypotheses on the dating and function of buildings, and on the dating, iconography and authors of mural paintings. By synthesizing the main debates on history, architecture and painting of Mayidari Juu, the present review essay aims at helping global scholarship on this major part of the Mongol heritage move on to a new stage.