Zsuzsanna Gulácsi, PhD

Zsuzsanna Gulácsi Professor
Northern Arizona University
Art History and Religious Studies
Blg 15 Rm #116 Personal Page


  • Arts of Asia, Pre-Islamic Central Asia, Buddhist art, and Illuminated manuscripts


Dr. Gulacsi is a historian of Asian religious art. In pursuit of a postgraduate education in Central Eurasian Studies and Art History, she came to the United States in 1990 from her native Hungary to study these subjects at Indiana University, Bloomington. She received a double major Ph.D. degree in 1998. After teaching the history of Central Asian Art at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan, between 1999-2003, she joined the faculty of the Department of Humanities, Arts, and Religion at NAU in 2003.


Dr. Gulacsi has a broad educational background that prepared her to teach a wide spectrum of undergraduate and graduate courses on the history and function of arts across the Asian continent. Her courses at NAU contribute to the curricula of the Art History, the Religious Studies, and the Asian Studies programs. From West and Central Asia, her teaching covers Early and Eastern Christian (Syriac and Armenian) art as well as Islamic art with special attention to the medium of the illuminated book. From South, Central, and East Asia, her classes focus on late ancient and mediaeval Buddhist art. When possible, her courses discuss the often-neglected Central and Northern parts of the Asian continent, including the tribal arts of Siberia (from where her own native Hungarian heritage ultimately derives), the arts of the ancient Nomadic Steppe Empires, as well as the more recent arts of the Mongol and Tibetan Empires. Her courses include:

  • Introduction to Asian Art
  • Arts of Japan
  • Arts of China
  • Writing about Art
  • Buddhist Art: Visual Language and Religious Context
  • Islamic Art: Religious and Secular Arts of Islamic Asia
  • Didactic Arts in Asian Religions
  • Arts of the Book in Asia: E. Christian, Manichaean, Islamic & Buddhist
  • Arts of China and Its Northern Neighbors
  • Silk Road Arts and Religions
  • Manichaean Art across the Asian Continent 


Dr. Gulacsi is a specialist of Manichaean art as well as the late ancient and medieval arts of the "Silk Road," a network of trade routes that connected West, South, and East Asia. Her research focuses on the contextualized study of the artistic heritage of Silk Road religions, including Buddhism, East Syriac/"Nestorian" Christianity, and Manichaeism, with special attention to the latter, a now extinct missionary world religion that existed across the Asian continent between the mid 3rd and the early 17th centuries. Dr. Gulacsi is the author of 2 books and numerous articles on Manichaean art, including:

  • “Searching for Mani’s Picture-Book in Textual and Pictorial Sources,” Transcultural Studies, 2011/1.
  • “A Manichaean Portrait of the Buddha Jesus (Yishu Fo Zheng): Identifying a 13th-century Chinese Painting from the Collection of Seiun-ji Zen Temple, near Kofu, Japan.” Artibus Asiae 69/1 (2009): 91-145.
  • Mediaeval Manichaean Book Art: A Codicological Study of Iranian and Turkic Illuminated Book Fragments from 8th – 11th cc. East Central Asia. Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 57 (Leiden: Brill, 2005).  
  • “Dating the ‘Persian’ and Chinese Style Remains of Uygur Manichaean Art: A New Radiocarbon Date and its Implication to Central Asian Art History.”Arts Asiatiques, 58 (2003): 5-33.
  • Manichaean Art in Berlin Collections: A Comprehensive Catalogue. Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum: Series Archaeologica et Iconographica 1(Turhout: Brepols, 2001)

Her current research projects include:

  • “Pictorial Diatessarons (Gospel Harmonies) in Early Manichaean & Early Christian Art of Syro-Mesopotamia.” Society of Biblical Literature (Art and Religion in Late Antiquity & Syriac Literature Sessions), Annual Meeting, Atlanta, 2010 (abstract).
  • “A Non-Christian Jesus: Late-Ancient Roots of Manichaean Jesus Iconography” Society of Biblical Literature  (Religion in Late Antiquity), Annual Meeting, Boston, 2008 (abstract).
  • “Dura from the East: Considering Mesopotamian Jewish Biblical Narrative in Light of 3rd-century Manichaean and Buddhist Analogies” Society of Biblical Literature and American Academy of Religion (Bible and Visual Arts), Annual Meeting, San Diego, 2007 (abstract).
  • Mani’s Picture-Book: Searching for a Late Antique Mesopotamian Pictorial Roll & its Mediaeval Transformation in Central and East Asian Art. Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies. Leiden: Brill, forthcoming (book prospectus).


Ryskamp Research Fellow
National Humanities Center Fellow
American Philosophical Society, Franklin Research Grant
Northern Arizona University (3 Intramural Grants)
Japanese Cultural Ministry, "Young Scholar" Fellow (Japan)
Outstanding Teacher and Scholar, Indiana University