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Unformatted text preview: before he renounced the
world. In the Buddhist tradition, the lotus, which may be found floating
on the surface of the murkiest water, stands for purity. It can also symbolize the universe, with each of its petals representing a separate, constituent world.
Two excellent examples of wooden sculpture from the Asuka period
are the figure in the Hòryûji of the bodhisattva Kannon, known as the
Kudara Kannon, and the seated image in a nearby nunnery of Miroku,
the buddha of the future (figs. 12–13). Both statues have features of the
Six Dynasties style—for example, the stiff, saw-toothed drapery of the
Kannon and the waterfall pattern in the lower folds of the Miroku’s
clothing. Yet, there is also in both a suggestion of the voluptuousness and
earthly sensuality that were to appear later in the sculpture of the T’ang.
The Miroku, whose surface appears like metal after centuries of rubbing
with incense, has been particularly admired for its tender, dreamlike expression and for the gentle manner in which the hand is raised to the
face. It strikes a mudra characteristic of Miroku statues.
The art epoch from the Taika Reform of 645 until the founding of
the great capital city of Nara in 710 is usually called the Hakuhò period
after one of the calendrical designations of the age. It was a time of vigorous reforming effort in Japan, directed by the imperial family itself;
and some of the more powerful sovereigns in Japanese history ruled during the Hakuhò period. Of these, it was the emperor Temmu (reigned
673–86) who first advanced Buddhism as the great protector of the country and of the imperial family. Buddhism had previously been patronized
by individuals, such as Prince Shòtoku and certain chieftains of the Soga
family. Under Temmu and his successors, Buddhism received the official
patronage of the court, which sponsored the construction of a series of
great temples during the late seventh and eighth centuries.
In both sculpture and painting, the Hakuhò period marked the transition in Japan, after a time lag of about a half-century, from...
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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