Taoism and the Arts

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Department 1

Religious Studies


This essay is Chapter 28 of The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the Arts edited by Frank Burch Brown (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014, pages 379-387). Religion and the Arts is one of the newest additions to the Oxford Handbook series, a project that explores reviews of recent academic research across disciplines. This edited volume of essays examines intersections of the visual and spiritual realms as they are expressed in religious traditions around the globe. Sommer's article, which was commissioned for Part III of this volume, "Religious Ways of Being Artistic," is a state-of-the-field review of recent Western-language scholarship on Taoism and the arts. Sommer explores problems concerning uses of the term "Taoism" and notes that Taoist art is as yet little understood. She understands "religious ways of being artistic" as including not only such media as painting and sculpture but as also including such diverse phenomena as calligraphy, talismans and diagrams, architecture, ritual performance, visualization, body movement, and constructions of sacred space.

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