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Unformatted text preview: ent transfer from place to place for strategic
purposes. When the Soga became politically dominant in the late sixth
century, they established the court at Asuka to the south of present-day
Nara, where their seat of territorial power was located.
The epoch from the introduction of Buddhism in 552 until the Taika
Reform of 645 is generally known in art history as the Asuka period.
Most, if not all, of the Buddhist statuary, painting, and temple architecture of the Asuka period was produced by Chinese and Korean craftsmen. It is therefore not until a later age that we can speak of the true
beginnings of Japanese Buddhist art. Nevertheless, the treasures of the
Asuka period, which are in the manner of China’s Six Dynasties era
(220–589), are of inestimable value not only because of their individual
merits but also because they constitute the largest body of Six Dynastiesstyle art extant. Owing to warfare and other vicissitudes, few examples
remain in China or Korea.
Although the first Buddhist temples in Japan were constructed by the
Soga in the late sixth century, none has survived. Of the buildings still
standing, by far the oldest—and indeed the oldest wooden buildings in
the world—are at the Hòryûji Temple, located to the southwest of Nara.
Originally constructed in 607 under the patronage of Prince Shòtoku, the
Hòryûji may have been partly or entirely destroyed by fire in 670 and
rebuilt shortly after the turn of the century. Even so, it contains buildings
that clearly antedate those of any other temple in Japan.
Buddhist temples of this age were arranged in patterns known as garan.
Although the garan varied in the number and arrangement of their structures, they usually had certain common features: a roofed gallery in the
form of a square or rectangle, with an entrance gate in the center of its
southern side, that enclosed the main compound of the temple; a socalled golden hall to house the temple’s principal images of devotion; a
lecture hall; and at least one pagoda, a type of building derived from the Fig. 9 Garan of the Hòryûji Temple (Consulate General of Japan, New York) Fig. 10 Golden Hall of the H...
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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 UBC.
- Spring '13