Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, class of 2014
PhD Dissertation Title: Song, Dance, and Instrumental Music in Buddhist Canon Law
Capstone Project: Young Jigme
Cuilan Liu is a documentary filmmaker and a scholar. Her scholarly interests in law, religion, and performing arts have led her to travel, research, and film in Asia, North America, and Europe. In May 2014, she graduated from the Department of South Asian Studies at Harvard University, where her doctoral thesis examines the codification of music in Buddhist canon law and the subsequent interpretation of these rules in China and Tibet.
While studying Tibetan Buddhist music in Northeastern Tibet, she met the monks of Longwu Temple where she learned the ancient “mani” musical tones inherited from their predecessors. This encounter inspired her to make her first feature length documentary, which later turned into her capstone project “Young Jigme”. This documentary is a narration-free observation of how a seventeen-year old novice monk struggled to navigate in the first two years of his monastic life in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Northeastern Tibet.This film has been sponsored by Harvard University’s Film Study Center, Fairbank Center, and CNEX 2011 “Youth & Citizenship” (Short Documentary Category). In the summer of 2012, she also attended The Robert Flaherty Film Seminar in New York as a FSC-Harvard fellow.