author: Stephen Markel, guest editor

from the Preface of ARS ORIENTALIS - SUPPLEMENT I 

ON ACCOUNT OF HIS BEING A WELL-WISHER of the world as well as by his happy and excellent rule, he was, indeed, always dear and accessible [to the people] like [their] father, mother and friend.

Little did the Vakataka minister Varahadeva know, when he had these words of praise about the father and glorious lineage of his king Hariseus inscribed in Cave 16 at Ajanta, that more than fifteen hundred years later the would be equally appropriate to another great patron of those majestic caves. Professor Walter M. Spink is widely regarded as the world's leading expert on the Ajanta caves. But he is far more than a mere art historian. His noble compassion for humankind, coupled with his impressive academic record and tremendous breadth of interest in the humanities of both the Orient and Occident, have elevated Professor Spink in the eyes of his peers to the status of senior scholar and,

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The Life and Times of Walter Spink

author: Bonnie Brereton


WHEN SCHOLARS of Asian art history hear the name Walter Spink, they're apt to think of the rock-cut monuments at Ajanta and Ellora or the Krsna theme in India miniature painting. But for those who have had the good fortune of knowing Professor Spink as mentor, colleague, or friend, what's more likely to come to mind is a personal anecdote involving the compassionate, creative, and quirky man we know as Uncle Walter, Walterji, or just plain Walter.

There are so many Walter stories to tell. A former student reminisces about the collage of verbal and visual images and symbols of Walter's "Arts: Ideas: East: West" course and how it changed the way she views the world. Ajanta Site Seminar veterans recall magical meanderings through monuments, museums, markets, and villages. At least one Ajanta veteran will attest that following Walter's

Read more: The Life and Times of Walter Spink

Short Chronologies at Arm's Length: Ajanta & Beyond

author: Sara Weisblat Schastok


THIS ESSAY, originally offered during the 1990 Association for Asian Studies meeting at the invitation of Robert Brown, posits that Walter Spink's short chronologies for Indian rock-cut architecture have led South Asian art history away from British scholarship on India in the important dimension of historical time and that they have shaped a generation's attempts to understand distant centuries. In developing the perspective that the short chronology is an intellectual phenomenon of our time, I purpose to push back from the heavily laden table of specific short chronologies and to look at them, at arm's length.

THE HISTORIAN of Indian art can scarcely avoid some immersion in chronological studies as there are relatively few dated objects from ancient times, but looking at this approach to art from a distance offers a broader sphere in which to evaluate these efforts.

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Walter M. Spink, Professor Emeritus

author: Bonnie Brereton

as published in University of Michigan News

WHEN UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN art historian Walter M. Spink was named professor emeritus in fall, 2000, he was off in a remote district of India, continuing his work on the project that has captivated him for over fifty years. The world's authority on the Buddhist rock-cut cave monasteries near Ajanta, Spink, like innumerable Buddhist pilgrims had returned to this site regularly with zeal and dedication. Moreover, he has enabled hundreds of students, not only from the University of Michigan, but also from institutions around the world, particularly those in India, to participate in his site seminar.

THE THIRTY CAVES OF AJANTA are actually human-made excavations cut into a horeshoe-shaped scarp of a steep cliff overlooking the Wagora River in the state of Maharashtra. Built in two separate phases, they represent two distinct movements

Read more: Walter M. Spink, Professor Emeritus

Walter M. Spink Selected Publications


Ajanta: History and Development. 6 Volumes (Handbook of Oriental Studies), Leiden, 2005.

      1: The End of the Golden Age. Leiden, 2005.

      2: Arguments about Ajanta. Leiden, 2006.

      3: The Arrival of the Uninvited. Leiden, 2006.

      4: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture: Ajanta:Year by Year. Leiden, 2008.

      5: Cave by Cave. Leiden, 2006.

      6: Shrines, Cells, Solstices. Leiden, 2008.

Read more: Walter M. Spink Selected Publications

Curriculum Vitae

Walter M. Spink

Professor Emeritus, History of Art

University of Michigan, Tappan Hall

Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1357 Phone: 734-764 5400


Biographical: Born February 16, 1928, Worcester, MA

Married, three children

Read more: Curriculum Vitae