Budgeting and Planning Religion

Budgeting and Planning Religion: Cost Estimates and their Realities for Buddha Statues and Paintings, 13 to 19 Century

Wenhua Luo


Mandala of Vajrabhairava, China, Yuan Dyansty, c. 1328, Slit-tapestry hanging, 246X208 cm, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (1992.54), Lila Acheson Wallace Gift

This project compares the codified cost estimates for Buddhist art objects such as statues and painting from three different dynasties, the Mongol Yuan, the Han-Chinese Ming, and the Manchu Qing. Particular focus is on the difference between the estimates and the actual costs and operability of the projects as such. The main sources are: the official Yuan dynasty survey of statuary and painting projects Yuandai huasu ji, official cost estimates and final reports of Ming officials on statues and paintings, archival material of the Qing Imperial household department that relates to budgeting, planning and final reporting of Buddhist objects and paraphernalia. The project looks into the evaluation of mis-budgeted religious planning and asks if there were additional issues at stake when the object served a religious purpose and if there is evidence of different “budgeting” cultures in Yuan, Ming and Qing China.