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Ariana Maki

Associate Director of the UVA Tibet Center and Bhutan Initiative


PhD, Ohio State University

Research Interests

Bhutan and Himalayan studies; material culture; iconography; digital humanities

I am an art historian focused South Asia and the Himalaya. As instructor in both art history and religious studies departments at UVA, and in my previous appointment at the University of Colorado Boulder, my courses have spanned the breadth of Asia and incorporate multidisciplinary approaches.

My research addresses the development of Bhutanese art, in particular analyzing literature and the material record to trace historical artists and workshops active in the 17th-19th centuries, which was a critical phase of national consolidation. More broadly, my research interests lie in the intersections of art, text, and ritual, and the ways in which iconography can contribute to understanding of the transmission, adoption, and adaptation of Buddhist practices.

In my role at the Tibet Center, I work closely with Himalayan communities, particularly in Bhutan and Tibetan areas of China, to support the creation of and access to resources that deepen understanding of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, some of which is critically endangered. These and related projects provide capacity-building training to Himalayan populations which they can choose to apply toward entrepreneurial endeavors and cultural documentation initiatives. As the main point of contact for these initiatives, I am responsible for Tibet Center work as we acquire and process materials donated by scholars, traditional knowledge holders, ritual specialists, and researchers from both within and outside the region.

Tibet Center’s deep dedication to open access is something I share, and I am pleased to have been a part of a multi-year collaboration with the Loden Foundation to produce the Bhutan Cultural Library, supported by the Arcadia Fund. I have also contributed to the Ronald M. and Dianne J. Bernier Archive at CU Boulder’s Visual Resources Center.

Along with Kurtis Schaeffer (UVA) and Andrew Quintman (Wesleyan), I co-direct the Life of the Buddha, an interdisciplinary digital humanities resources that provides tools to understand the relationships between image, literature, and architecture through a 17th century monastery, Takten Puntsokling in central Tibet.


  • NEH-Mellon Fellow for Digital Publication (2022-23)
  • Fulbright Scholar to Bhutan (2019-20)


  • Art of Tibet and the Himalayas
  • Distinguished Majors Thesis
  • Independent Study


  • “Buddha Shakyamuni Surrounded by Scenes from the Wish-Fulfilling Vine,” in Making & Meaning: The Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College. Elizabeth Nogrady and Alyx Rax, Eds. Chicago: Hirmer Publishers/University of Chicago Press, 2023
  • “Tamzhing Temple” in Himalayan Art in 108 Objects, Karl Debreczeny and Elena Pakhoutova, Eds. New York: Rubin Museum of Art, 2023
  • Between Us: Identity and Relationship in Contemporary Tibetan Art, co-authored with Janice Glowski. Exhibition Catalogue. Frank Museum of Art, Otterbein University, 2017
  • “Visual Transmission: Bhutanese Art and Artists in the 17th-19th Centuries.” Mandala of 21st Century Perspectives: Proceedings of the International Conference on Tradition and Innovation in Vajrayana Buddhism. Thimphu: Centre for Bhutan Studies, 102-121, 2017
  • Artful Contemplation: Collections from the National Museum of Bhutan. Co-authored with Khenpo Phuntshok Tashi and Singye Samdrup. Paro: National Museum of Bhutan, 2014