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Unformatted text preview: ing to Japan in 754 to
found one of the six Nara sects (fig. 19). This is the oldest surviving
portrait of an actual person in Japanese history. There is a painting from
the late seventh century of Prince Shòtoku and two of his sons, but it The Introduction of Buddhism Fig. 19 41 Statue of Ganjin at the Tòshòdaiji Temple (Asuka-en) was done many years after the prince’s death and was drawn in such a
stylized Chinese fashion that the artist obviously made no attempt to portray the features of real individuals. The Ganjin statue, on the other hand,
is extraordinarily lifelike and shows the priest in an attitude of intense
concentration. It was this kind of emotionally moving realism that so
greatly impressed Japanese sculptors of later centuries when they looked
back for inspiration to the classical art of the Tempyò period.
Near the Tòdaiji and originally part of the temple complex is a
remarkable building called the Shòsòin (fig. 20). It has the appearance
of a gigantic, elongated log cabin with its floor raised some nine feet off
the ground on massive wooden pillars. Actually, the Shòsòin consists of
three separate units that are joined together, each with its own entranceway, and it is a storehouse of world art from the eighth century. It has
stood intact for more than eleven centuries and before modern times
was opened only infrequently, sometimes remaining sealed for periods of The Introduction of Buddhism 42 Fig. 20 Shòsòin (Asuka-en) up to a century or more. Because of its special construction—in addition
to a raised floor, it has sides made of logs that expand and contract to
maintain the temperature and humidity inside at a more even level—the
Shòsòin has preserved its contents in nearly perfect condition.
Of the ten thousand or so items contained in the Shòsòin, more than
six hundred were the personal belongings of Emperor Shòmu; they include books, clothing, swords and other weapons, Buddhist rosaries,
musical instruments, mirrors, screens, and gaming boards. There are also
the ritual objects used in the eye-opening ceremony for the daibutsu, as
well as many maps, administrative documents, medicines, a...
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- Spring '13