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Unformatted text preview: òryûji Temple (photograph by Joseph Shulman) 30 The Introduction of Buddhism Indian stupa and originally intended to contain the relic of a Buddhist
saint. At the Hryûji, the golden hall and a single, five-storied pagoda are
located to the right and left inside the entrance gate, and the lecture hall
is to the rear of the compound, actually integrated into the northern side
of the gallery (figs. 9–10). The chief characteristics of the golden hall are
its raised stone base and its hipped and gabled upper roof; as probably
the oldest of the Hòryûji buildings, it is especially representative of the
Buddhist architectural style of the Six Dynasties period.
Among the statuary in the golden hall is a trinity of figures in bronze,
set in relief against flaming body halos. According to an inscription, this
was cast in 623 to commemorate the death of Prince Shòtoku the year
before (fig. 11). It shows the historical Buddha, Gautama (in Japanese,
Shaka), flanked by two attendant bodhisattvas. The Buddha is seated Fig. 11 Shaka trinity at the Hòryûji Temple (Asuka-en) The Introduction of Buddhism 31 cross-legged on a dais with his clothing draped in the stylized waterfall
pattern of the Six Dynasties period. He also strikes one of the many
mudras or special hand positions of Buddhist iconography (the upraised
hand here gives assurance against fear and the open palm is a sign of
charity); and he has a protuberance on his head and a third eye that indicate extraordinary knowledge and vision and are among some twentythree bodily signs introduced by the Mahayana Buddhists to indicate
Gautama’s superhuman qualities. The expression on the faces of all three
figures of the trinity is that known as the “archaic smile,” whose impersonality and vague mysteriousness contrast strikingly with the unabashed
frankness we noted in the countenances of many of the early native
haniwa figurines of human beings.
The bodhisattvas stand on pedestals of lotus blossoms and are attired
in the sort of princely garb that Gautama wore...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.
- Spring '13