A list of recently released books, films, and recordings related to Buddhist art. Descriptions are either our reviews, or are from publishers’ websites. – Buddhist art news
A catalog accompanying the Exhibition: Institute of East Asian Studies at UC Berkeley, 20 November 2013 – 20 March 2014
Buddhist paintings in Cambodia serve in rituals, for teaching, and as a means of making space sacred. The exhibit presents works on cloth and glass from the collection of Joel Montague that embody both the religious stories and doctrines of Cambodian Buddhism and the traditions of Cambodian culture.
The very detailed catalog of the exhibit compiled by Trent Walker, includes images of the paintings, translations of painting inscriptions and accompanying Khmer liturgical material, and a short introductory essay, is freely available online.
[from publisher's website]
John Cage was among the first wave of post-war American artists and intellectuals to be influenced by Zen Buddhism and it was an influence that led him to become profoundly engaged with our current ecological crisis. In John Cage and Buddhist Ecopoetics, Peter Jaeger asks: what did Buddhism mean to Cage? And how did his understanding of Buddhist philosophy impact on his representation of nature? Following Cage’s own creative innovations in the poem-essay form and his use of the ancient Chinese text, the I Ching to shape his music and writing, this book outlines a new critical language that reconfigures writing and silence.
Interrogating Cage’s ‘green-Zen’ in the light of contemporary psychoanalysis and cultural critique as well as his own later turn towards anarchist politics, John Cage and Buddhist Ecopoetics provides readers with a critically performative site for the Zen-inspired “nothing” which resides at the heart of Cage’s poetics, and which so clearly intersects with his ecological writing.
Table Of Contents
Series Editors Introduction \ Preface: The Buddhist Quilting Point \ Cage – Scalapino – Davies \ Reading New Buddhist Poetry \ Further Reading \ Index
“Peter Jaeger offers an enlightening guide to Zen and related Western sources and resonances in John Cage’s aesthetics. John Cage and Buddhist Ecopoetics is a lo-fi commentary on how some tenets of Buddhist thought, especially as filtered through D. T. Suzuki and Alan Watts, were pragmatically adapted and amalgamated in radical mid-20th-centry North American poetry and art.” – Charles Bernstein, University of Pennsylvania, USA
“What makes Peter Jaeger’s book on Cage’s Zen interests unique is its turn from Buddhist ideas to the formal innovations that Cage took to be integral to an adequate ecopoetics. Jaeger takes seriously Cage’s belief that one must study nature in her manner of operation; consequently, his book does not talk about Cagean Zen; rather, it performs it, providing us with a theatrical mise-en-scene of its processes. Adopting Cage’s own procedural methods, based on I Ching chance operations, Jaeger presents his “topics” in a highly novel way, allowing for interruptions, silences, and incremental repetitions. In the course of Jaeger’s own “Lectures on Nothing,” we learn a great deal about Cage’s relationship to other poets and artists as well as about his particular critique, not unrelated to Lacan’s psychoanalytic one, of Western social and political organization. Himself a poet, Jaeger has produced a learned study that is also great fun to read—a delightful poetic text in its own right.” – Marjorie Perloff, Stanford, USA
Imprint: Bloomsbury Academic
Series: New Directions in Religion and Literature
Dimensions: 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″
List price: $29.95
The National Museum of Korea (Director Kim Youngna) announces a new publication: Central Asian Religious Paintings in the National Museum of Korea. This is the first volume of a series of catalogues that presents the Central Asian collection of the NMK.
Originating from Central Asia and currently in the NMK’s possession, the artifacts presented in the catalogue were among those collected from a Japanese expedition in the early 20th century led by a priest named Ōtani Kozui (1876−1948). Beginning in 1914, the collected artifacts were dispersed among various institutions in China and Japan. In 1916, Kuhara Fusanosuke (1869−1965) assumed responsibility for the remaining artifacts along with Villa Nirakuso in Kobe, and donated them to the Japanese Governor-General’s Office Museum in Korea. During Japan’s colonial rule of Korea, these items were put on display in Sujeongjeon Hall of Gyeongbokgung Palace.
After Korea’s liberation from colonial rule, the artifacts were obtained by the NMK. During the Korean War, they were taken to Busan along with other national treasures and later were relocated to the newly built museum (now the National Folk Museum) within Gyeongbokgung Palace. In 1986, when the NMK opened in the refurbished building that was formerly the Japanese Governor-General’s Office, part of the collection was displayed in the Central Asian Art Gallery.
The overall research of the collection was delayed for various reasons—including the war, difficulties related to the condition of the artifacts and the on-site surveys in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China to determine their sources prior to the country’s reestablishment of diplomatic relations with China.
Following the normalization of Korea−China relations, curators at the NMK began to conduct on-site research. At the same time, more efforts were given to conservation science. In 2005, the NMK was relocated to Yongsan in Seoul and a new permanent gallery for Central Asian artifacts was open to the public.
Some of the artifacts were published in the catalogue titled Arts of Central Asia at the time of the collection’s relocation in 1986. Then in 2003, a selection of artifacts was introduced in the special exhibition catalogue, Arts of Central Asia: Collections in the National Museum of Korea. However, the whole collection has never been published. Thus, starting this year, the NMK plans to publish a series of catalogues with the aim of introducing the collection in its entirety according to themes. This is part of a larger project of research on the collections obtained during the Japanese colonial period.
The new publication contains photos of 77 murals and paintings on silk, cotton and paper. Most of them represent Buddhist themes, although one of the painting fragments is thought to be associated with Manichaeism. These artifacts originated in the northwestern part of China, at sites in Turpan, Kucha, Miran and Dunhuang.
The primary purpose of the catalogue is to provide both specialists and general readers with a guide to the NMK’s Central Asian paintings. In this sense, the catalogue includes listings of the important topics of discussion and literature related to each painting, in addition to new research. It also contains the result of scientific research on 39 artifacts using microscopy, infrared reflectography, radiography, and radiocarbon dating. Pigment analysis was also conducted using X-ray fluorescence spectrometers.
The publication of this new catalogue is highly significant in that it contains the results of comprehensive research encompassing history, art history and conservation science. Moreover, the publication is expected to develop stimulating discussions and future research on these important artifacts.
The 265-page catalogue is available at the NMK Museum Shop. Price: 40,000 won. Publisher: BA Design.
UK Price: £75.00 US Price: $175.00
Dimensions: 297 x 210
Illustrations: 196 Colour
The Buddhist Art Forum—a major international gathering that explored the interrelation between the nature, creation, function, and conservation of Buddhist art from its earliest manifestations to the present—was held at the Courtauld Institute of Art in 2012, sponsored by the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation and attended by artists, scholars, historians, conservators, officials and monks. The aims of the Ho Foundation to promote the understanding of Buddhism and of The Courtauld to air the complex challenges of preserving Buddhist art are well served in the papers presented at the conference and contained in this volume which cover the form, function, conservation and display of Buddhist Art.
Silla: Korea’s Golden Kingdom
By Soyoung Lee and Denise Patry Leidy
The Silla Kingdom, which flourished in Korea from 57 B.C. to 935 A.D., is known for its intricately crafted ornaments, many in resplendent gold, and for the creation of prominent Buddhist temples. Silla focuses on the striking artistic traditions of the Old and Unified Silla Kingdoms (4th– 8th century), and is the first publication in English to explore the artistic and cultural legacy of this ancient realm. Among the topics explored are Korea’s position as the eastern culmination of the Silk Road in the first millennium A.D. and the character and evolution of Buddhism, as illuminated by objects from major monuments, temples, and tombs. The book also presents new research about Silla’s ancient capital, Gyeongju, which is known for the Gyerim-ro Dagger, as well as the pottery, glass, and beads discovered in tombs located there. Featuring over 100 magnificent objects, newly photographed and presented with the latest scholarship, this volume will be a revelation to many, and a lavish introduction to the glory that was Silla.
240 pages, 221 illustrations (205 in full color). 8” x 10”. Hardcover, clothbound.
Buddhist Paintings of Tun-Huang In the National Museum, New Delhi
Lokesh Chandra & Nirmala Sharma
Publisher: Niyogi Books
Territory: USA & Canada
Size: 9.5 in x 12.25 in
Illustrations: 153 color
This book focuses on one of the three major archives of the Tun Huang paintings, which can only be seen at the National Museum of India, New Delhi
A valuable resource for Buddhist Scholars
The Tun-huang caves are the epitome of Buddhist art over the centuries. Situated at the foot of the Mountain of Singing Sands, they are believed to be the brush of the Buddha, where, according to legend, an itinerant monk Yüeh-ts’un watched the irridescent peaks in the sheen of blue satin, settled down to excavate the first cave in AD 344, and painted its walls with colors brought by birds.
Buddhist Paintings of Tun-Huang in the National Museum, New Delhi reproduces and describes for the first time the paintings from Tun-huang in this museum, one of the three major archives of the Tun-huang paintings.This book fulfills a long-felt need and will cover a major lacuna of research. The scrolls from Tun-huang are the jewels of these caverns that once drew humans to their depths.
Preface; Tun-Huang over the centuries; Tun-Huang: Galaxy of Divine Images; Tun-Huang Paintings in the National Museum; Literature Cited; Chronological Footholds; Chinese Dynasties; Concordance of CH. Stein National Museum and Book.
Lokesh Chandra is an internationally renowned scholar of Tibetan, Mongolian and Sino-Japanese Buddhism. A prolific writer, he has to his credit 600 academic works. He has been Vice- President of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, and Chairman of the Indian Council for Historical Research. Presently he serves as Director at the International Academy of Indian Culture, New Delhi.
Nirmala Sharma is an Art Historian and Professor of Buddhist studies at the International Academy of Indian Culture, New Delhi. She has also been a senior fellow of the American Institute of Indian Studies. She is a member of The Association of British Scholars and the Programme Advisory committee at the IGNCA and has travelled extensively to Greece, Spain,France, Italy, Indonesia, China and Central Asia (Silk Route), and Taiwan to attend seminars and conduct field studies.
Over a decade in the making, The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Cloth $65.00, ISBN: 9780691157863; eBook: ISBN: 9781400848058) is the most authoritative and wide-ranging reference of its kind ever produced in English. The Buddhist scholars Robert E. Buswell Jr. and Donald S. Lopez Jr. have created a milestone dictionary that explains the key terms, doctrines, practices, texts, authors, deities, and schools of Buddhism across six major canonical languages and traditions: Sanskrit, Pāli, Tibetan, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. This important new reference also includes selected terms from Burmese, Khmer, Lao, Mongolian, Newari, Sinhalese, Thai, and Vietnamese.
More than 5,000 alphabetical entries—totaling 1.2 million words—take an encyclopedic approach, with short essays that explore the extended meaning and significance in greater depth than a conventional dictionary. The book also includes a chronicle of Asian historical periods (empires, dynasties, and kingdoms) and a timeline of Buddhism from the sixth century BCE to the 20th century. Eight maps show both the Buddhist cosmological realms as well as many regions of Asia, marking the major cities, important monasteries, sacred places, and pilgrimage routes spanning geographical sites in India, China, Japan, Korea, and Tibet.
The List of Lists—an appendix of some of the most important numerical lists used in Buddhism, from the one vehicle to the one hundred dharmas of the Yogācāra School—includes such items as the three jewels, four noble truths, six destinies of rebirth, ten realms of reality, and thirty-two marks of a great man.
Extensive cross-references guide readers to related entries throughout the dictionary and across all of the canonical languages, traditions, and schools. There are also a series of appendixes to cross-references in the six canonical languages we cover, plus a Tibetan phonetic appendix.
THE PRINCETON DICTIONARY OF BUDDHISM is an indispensable source for a new generation of students, scholars, practicing Buddhists, and anyone with a serious interest in Buddhism’s long history and vast geographic and intellectual scope.
Sample pages available for viewing at Amazon.
Art and Icon : Essays on Early Indian Art / Devangana Desai. – New Delhi : Aryan Books International, 2013. – xxvi, 310 S. : Ill.
The author’s love for ancient Indian art and several years of intensive research are reflected in the essays included in this book. The essays cover a wide spectrum, from the sensuous to the sublime, from an analysis of narrative Ramayana sculptures, to a discussion of the relevance of Tantrism to erotic temple sculpture, to a study of ancient terracottas in a socio-cultural context. Art and Icon brings together for the first time 16 selected essays from the 90 that Dr. Devangana Desai has written over a period of 35 years, many of which are not easily accessible. These have been edited and updated with new material. The essays are divided into six sections: i) Approaches to Art, ii) Terracotta Art, iii) Iconography, iv) Iconology and Meaning in Art, v) Art and Eroticism, and vi) Narrative Art. Icons and images, sacred objects of veneration, are generally guided by elaborate rules and conventions detailing their size, sitting or standing postures and hand gestures. Artists have more flexibility when depicting non-iconic subjects. However, the line between art and icon is rather thin as is evident in some magnificent images published in this book. The author reveals the interrelationships and interactions between various fields of art – sculpture, dance and narration of stories – as can be noticed particularly in the articles on the dancing Ganesa, the auspicious motifs of Salabhanjika (woman-and-tree) and surasundari (celestial nymph), and the figures in the narrative sculptural panels. The article “The Temple as an Ordered Whole – The Iconic Scheme at Khajuraho” is a significant contribution to an iconological study of temple art. This well-illustrated book will be valuable to scholars as well as students of Indian art and will also appeal to general readers.
Buddhist Poetry and Colonialism: Alagiyavanna and the Portuguese in Sri Lanka by Stephen C. Berkwitz Many researchers have explored the impact of British and French Orientalism in the reinterpretations of Buddhism in South and Southeast Asia during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Less noticed, however, and infrequently discussed is the impact of Portuguese colonialists and missionaries upon Buddhist communities in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries across Asia. Stephen C. Berkwitz addresses this theme by examining five poetic works by Alagiyavanna Mukaveti (b.1552), a renowned Sinhala poet who participated directly in the convergence of local and trans-local cultures in early modern Sri Lanka. Berkwitz follows the written works of the poet from his position in the court of a Sinhala king, through the cultural upheavals of warfare and the expansion of colonial rule, and finally to his eventual conversion to Catholicism and employment under the Portuguese Crown. In so doing, Berkwitz explores the transformations in religion and literature rendered by what was arguably the earliest sustained encounter between Asian Buddhists and European colonialists in world history. Alagiyavanna’s poetic works give expression to both a discourse of nostalgia for the local religious and cultural order in the late sixteenth century, and a discourse of cultural assimilation with the new colonial order during its ascendancy in the early seventeenth century. Employing an interdisciplinary approach that combines Buddhist Studies, History, Literary Criticism, and Postcolonial Studies, this book yields important insights into how the colonial experience contributed to the transformation of Buddhist culture in early modernity.
Icons and Iconoclasm in Japanese Buddhism Kukai and Dogen on the Art of Enlightenment Pamela D. Winfield 20 February 2013 240 Pages 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches ISBN: 9780199753581 Does imagery help or hinder the enlightenment experience? Does awakening involve the imagination or not? Can art ever fully represent the realization of buddahood? In this study, Pamela D. Winfield offers a fascinating comparison of two pre-modern Japanese Buddhist masters and their views on the role of imagery in the enlightenment experience. Kukai (774-835) believed that real and imagined forms were indispensable to his new esoteric Mikky? method for “becoming a Buddha in this very body” (sokushin jobutsu), yet he also deconstructed the significance of such imagery in his poetic and doctrinal works. Conversely, Dogen (1200-1253) believed that “just sitting” in Zen meditation without any visual props or mental elaborations could lead one to realize that ”this very mind is Buddha” (sokushin zebutsu), but he also privileged select Zen icons as worthy of veneration. In considering the nuanced views of both Kukai and Dogen anew, Winfield updates previous comparisons of their oeuvres and engages their texts and images together for the first time. In so doing, she liberates them from past sectarian scholarship that has pigeon-holed them into iconographic/ritual vs. philological/philosophical categories. She also restores the historical symbiosis between religious thought and artistic expression that was lost in the nineteenth-century disciplinary distinction between religious studies and art history. Finally, Winfield breaks new methodological ground by proposing space and time as organizing principles for analyzing both meditative experience and visual/material culture. As a result, this study presents a wider and deeper vision of how Japanese Buddhists themselves understood the role of imagery before, during, and after awakening.
On the Formation of the Upper Monastic Area of Seon Buddhist Temples from Korea´s Late Silla to the Goryeo Era Series: Sungkyunkwan University Outstanding Research, Vol. 2 Seung-yeon, Lee 2013, X, 117 p. 62 illus., 36 illus. in color. ISBN 978-3-319-00052-7 Explores the characteristics of Seon temple architecture from Korea’s late Silla to the early Goryeo eras through the evolution of the upper monastic area One of the rare sources of information on Korean Buddhist architecture and temples This book is a small endeavor to reinterpret the volumes of data gathered from field research based on excavated temple ruins and existing historical documents and, in the process, introduce Korean Seon temples to a global audience When Seon (Zen) Buddhism was first introduced to Korea around Korea’s late Silla and early Goryeo eras, the function of the “beopdang” (Dharma hall) was transfused to the lecture hall found in ancient Buddhist temples, establishing a pivotal area within the temple compound called the “upper monastic area.” By exploring the structural formation and dissolution of the upper monastic area, the author shows how Korea established its own distinctive Seon temples, unlike those of China and Japan, in the course of assimilating a newly-introduced foreign culture as its own. To accomplish this, the author analyzed the inscriptions on stone monuments which recorded the lives of eminent monks and also numerous excavated temple ruins. These analyses give us a new perspective on the evolution of the upper monastic area, which had the beopdang as its center, at a time when early Seon temples were being established under very adverse and unstable circumstances. The exploration of the spatial organization and layout of Korean Seon temple architecture has illuminated the continuity between Korean Buddhist temples of both the ancient and medieval eras.
Buddhist Theory of Semiotics: Signs, Ontology, and Salvation in Japanese Esoteric Buddhism (Bloomsbury Advances in Semiotics) Fabio Rambelli Publication Date: May 16, 2013 | ISBN-10: 1441161961 | ISBN-13: 978-1441161963 One of the first attempts ever to present in a systematic way a non-western semiotic system. This book looks at Japanese esoteric Buddhism and is based around original texts, informed by explicit and rigorous semiotic categories. It is a unique introduction to important aspects of the thought and rituals of the Japanese Shingon tradition. Semiotic concerns are deeply ingrained in the Buddhist intellectual and religious discourse, beginning with the idea that the world is not what it appears to be, which calls for a more accurate understanding of the self and reality. This in turn results in sustained discussions on the status of language and representations, and on the possibility and methods to know reality beyond delusion; such peculiar knowledge is explicitly defined as enlightenment. Thus, for Buddhism, semiotics is directly relevant to salvation; this is a key point that is often ignored even by Buddhologists. This book discusses in depth the main elements of Buddhist semiotics as based primarily on original Japanese pre-modern sources. It is a crucial publication in the fields of semiotics and religious studies.
A Concise History of Buddhist Art in Siam by Reginald Le May PUBLISHED: August 2013 FORMAT: Paperback ISBN: 9781107619463 LENGTH: 274 pages Originally published in 1938, this book provides a history of the variety of forms of Buddhist art that grew up in Thailand from the 1st century AD to the end of the 16th century. Le May draws on his experience as part of the British Consular Service in Thailand to focus primarily on sculpture, how the trade routes in South and South-East Asia brought Thailand into contact with a variety of artistic styles and how the different areas of the country adapted these styles for their own use. This book will be of value to anyone with an interest in the history of Thai art specifically or of Eastern art more generally.
A Heritage of Ruins: The Ancient Sites of Southeast Asia and Their Conservation Chapman, William University of Hawai’i Press ISBN: 978-0-8248-3631-3 The ancient ruins of Southeast Asia have long sparked curiosity and romance in the world’s imagination. They appear in accounts of nineteenth-century French explorers, as props for Indiana Jones’ adventures, and more recently as the scene of Lady Lara Croft’s fantastical battle with the forces of evil. They have been featured in National Geographic magazine and serve as backdrops for popular television travel and reality shows. Now William Chapman’s expansive new study explores the varied roles these monumental remains have played in the histories of Southeast Asia’s modern nations. Based on more than fifteen years of travel, research, and visits to hundreds of ancient sites, A Heritage of Ruins shows the close connection between “ruins conservation” and both colonialism and nation building. It also demonstrates the profound impact of European-derived ideas of historic and aesthetic significance on ancient ruins and how these continue to color the management and presentation of sites in Southeast Asia today. Angkor, Pagan (Bagan), Borobudur, and Ayutthaya lie at the center of this cultural and architectural tour, but less visited sites, including Laos’s stunning Vat Phu, the small temple platforms of Malaysia’s Lembah Bujang Valley, the candi of the Dieng Plateau in Java, and the ruins of Mingun in Burma and Wiang Kum Kam near Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, are also discussed. All share a relative isolation from modern urban centers of population, sitting in park-like settings, serving as objects of tourism and as lynchpins for local and even national economies. Chapman argues that these sites also remain important to surrounding residents, both as a means of income and as continuing sources of spiritual meaning. He examines the complexities of heritage efforts in the context of present-day expectations by focusing on the roles of both outside and indigenous experts in conservation and management and on attempts by local populations to reclaim their patrimony and play a larger role in protection and interpretation. Tracing the history of interventions aimed at halting time’s decay, Chapman provides a chronicle of conservation efforts over a century and a half, highlighting the significant part foreign expertise has played in the region and the ways that national programs have, in recent years, begun to break from earlier models. The book ends with suggestions for how Southeast Asian managers and officials might best protect their incomparable heritage of art and architecture and how this legacy might be preserved for future generations. 113 illus., 26 in color” target=”_blank”>A Heritage of Ruins: The Ancient Sites of Southeast Asia and Their Conservation 360pp. July 2013 The ancient ruins of Southeast Asia have long sparked curiosity and romance in the world’s imagination. They appear in accounts of nineteenth-century French explorers, as props for Indiana Jones’ adventures, and more recently as the scene of Lady Lara Croft’s fantastical battle with the forces of evil. They have been featured in National Geographic magazine and serve as backdrops for popular television travel and reality shows. Now William Chapman’s expansive new study explores the varied roles these monumental remains have played in the histories of Southeast Asia’s modern nations. Based on more than fifteen years of travel, research, and visits to hundreds of ancient sites, A Heritage of Ruins shows the close connection between “ruins conservation” and both colonialism and nation building. It also demonstrates the profound impact of European-derived ideas of historic and aesthetic significance on ancient ruins and how these continue to color the management and presentation of sites in Southeast Asia today. Angkor, Pagan (Bagan), Borobudur, and Ayutthaya lie at the center of this cultural and architectural tour, but less visited sites, including Laos’s stunning Vat Phu, the small temple platforms of Malaysia’s Lembah Bujang Valley, the candi of the Dieng Plateau in Java, and the ruins of Mingun in Burma and Wiang Kum Kam near Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, are also discussed. All share a relative isolation from modern urban centers of population, sitting in park-like settings, serving as objects of tourism and as lynchpins for local and even national economies. Chapman argues that these sites also remain important to surrounding residents, both as a means of income and as continuing sources of spiritual meaning. He examines the complexities of heritage efforts in the context of present-day expectations by focusing on the roles of both outside and indigenous experts in conservation and management and on attempts by local populations to reclaim their patrimony and play a larger role in protection and interpretation. Tracing the history of interventions aimed at halting time’s decay, Chapman provides a chronicle of conservation efforts over a century and a half, highlighting the significant part foreign expertise has played in the region and the ways that national programs have, in recent years, begun to break from earlier models. The book ends with suggestions for how Southeast Asian managers and officials might best protect their incomparable heritage of art and architecture and how this legacy might be preserved for future generations. 113 illus., 26 in color
Thawan Duchanee Modern Buddhist Artist By Russell Marcus ISBN 978-616-215-056-2 2013. Paperback 14×21 cm, 168 pp. 300g. Thai national artist Thawan Duchanee has spent his life creating art that deeply reflects Buddhist philosophy. He is internationally renowned, and his art is masterful both for its intricacy and for its subtle portrayal of Buddhism. Thawan expresses Buddhist wisdom with incredible versatility. His artworks depict the dangers of doubt, lust, fear, and lack of concentration, expose humankind’s pursuit of pleasure and escape from pain, and illustrate virtues exemplified in the previous lives of the Buddha. Using over one hundred images, the book succinctly examines these themes, often hidden deep within the art itself, and guides the reader through some of Thawan’s most interesting works. This is the first book to combine a focus on these works with an exploration of Thawan’s outstanding architectural and decorative achievements in Chiang Rai and Germany. Often told in his own words, this book offers insights into Thawan’s creative genius, explores his philosophy on the arts, examines his famous signature, and recounts his life story. It is fascinating reading for all those interested in Thai art and Buddhism.
Buddhist Paintings 2014 Calendar Calendar – Wall Calendar by San Francisco Asian Art Museum
Monuments and Temples of Orthodox Buddhism in India and Sri Lanka Paperback by W. Vivian De Thabrew Product Details Paperback: 116 pages Publisher: AuthorHouseUK (July 10, 2013) Language: English ISBN-10: 1481795511 ISBN-13: 978-1481795517 Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 0.3 inches This is a mainly pictorial work, featuring recent colour photographs taken in the main by the author of the many different styles and features of Buddhist images, stupas or dagobas and temples found in the two oldest Buddhist countries in Asia. Accompanying the photographs is a brief text describing the magnificent architectural heritage of Buddhism, and also explaining the origin and development of the images and stupas. Very little has been published specifically on these subjects in a single volume and presented in an attractive manner for the serious student or the interested general reader. Older works on Buddhist iconography and temples tend to have mainly black and white photographs of sites which have now changed considerably, with development by UNESCO and governments. These photographs are current and in resplendent colour. They endeavour to exhibit the physical expression of one of the world’s major religions, which now has many adherents in the West as well as in the East. These Buddhist sites now attract many thousands of visitors, both pilgrims and tourists, all year round. This book would provide a beautiful memento of visits to some of these places, as well as providing more information for those who wish to pursue the subject more deeply.
Beyond the Robe relates the story of the Science for Monks program, launched more than a decade ago to bring science education to the Buddhist monks and nuns of the Tibetan diaspora. The program was first conceived by the Dalai Lama and made possible with the funding and management resources of American philanthropist Bobby Sager. As described by the participants, the program was launched with the recruitment of a cadre of translators and the creation of a lexis of relevant and translatable concepts. Scientists were brought to India for periods as short as a summer to teach basic science principles to the equivalent of Tibetan college students. The program is ongoing and has resulted in an exhibit for science museums of a series of traditional thangka paintings contrasting Buddhist and contemporary scientific methods of understanding the senses, as well as the spread of science education to other sectors of the Tibetan exile community.
Buddhist Storytelling in Thailand and Laos: The Vessantara Jataka Scroll at the Asian Civilisations Museum by Lefferts, Leedom; Sandra Cate 13 Digit IBSN: ISBN: 9789810724788. Pages 163 Hard Cover, Fully illustrated in colour Further information and ordering: Select Books #: 054615 (701) Price: US$21.59 (SGD28.04*) + shipping & 10% handling This richly illustrated, full-colour volume offers an innovative study of the long, painted scrolls of Northeast Thailand and Laos that depict the Prince Vessantara Buddhist birth story. A 31-metre scroll in the Asian Civilisations Museum provides the focus for this popular narrative, with comparative illustrations from other scrolls giving contrastive details. The authors analyse these scrolls in the context of the Bun Phra Wet – the Thai-Lao and Lao ceremony in which they are used – and consider the complex interplay of text, art, ritual, and belief which occur in these performances. Contents: Foreword, Lee Chor Lin Introductory note, Steven Collins Introduction Sopha Pangchat’s scroll at the Asian Civilisations Museum Scrolls, festivals, performances Artists tell the story The writing on the scroll – Thai-Lao transcription, Thai and English translations Notes on the artist and the scroll in Singapore Glossary Bibliography Index
Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression — An Introduction to Mahayana Buddhism
Taigen Dan Leighton
Foreword by Joan Halifax
Published by Wisdom Publications, 2012
Paperback 352 pages, 6 x 9 inches $18.95 ISBN 9781614290148
Review by Jonathan Ciliberto
Books on Buddhist iconography and art typically take a Field Guide approach, providing descriptions of the key visual features for identifying, in paintings and sculpture, Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and significant figures from Buddhist history and literature. Behind these details — the what of Buddhist art — is the why: “why do these images exist?”
Religious art’s purpose is, obviously, religious. Faces of Compassion, by Zen teacher Taigen Dan Leighton approaches iconography from this direction, and shakes off the distanced quality of museum images common to volumes on Buddhist art by engaging directly the religious efficacy of observing images. His approach is fresh, and of great usefulness to modern readers: by seeking for archetypes in real, familiar, modern day individuals, he provides those seeking models for a compassionate live ready and understandable guides.
Muhammad Ali, Mahatma Gandhi, Bob Dylan, Albert Schweitzer, Branch Rickey Henry Thoreau, Gertrude Stein, Mother Teresa, and Roberto Clemente are amongst the diverse group of figures the author uses to illustrate fundamental characteristics of bodhistattvas: Shakyamuni, Jizo, Avalokiteshvara, and others. By providing lived lives, rather than a catalogue of virtuous, if often mythically or supernaturally removed, qualities, the book says to the reader: here are people like you, not perfect, living in your world, who evidenced qualities exhorted by the great figures of Buddhism. “By featuring some of the people in our own world who are spiritual benefactors, I wish to encourage recognition that [...] we need not see the bodhisattva ideal as irrelevant, idealistic, or beyond our reach” (p.21).
It is a remarkable approach, and although not specifically “about” Buddhist art, does quite effectively explain the latter’s function.
The majority of the book consists of seven chapters, one for each of seven key bodhisattavas. These each begin with a description of a bodhisattava, including information drawn from history and scripture. Readers completely unfamiliar with, say, Samantabhadra learn his attributes, his key episodes and descriptions from Buddhist literature, and his iconography (illustrated with photographs of Buddhist art). This is followed by the modern “exemplars” of that bodhisattava-as-archetype. For Samantabhadra, the author lists Aung San Suu Kyi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., William Blake, Mahatma Ghandi, Rachel Carson, Pete Seeger, Jackie Robinson, Thomas Edison, and others, and through brief examinations of these figures lives and works, illustrates particular aspects of the bodhisattva in action.
The book also includes three very useful chapters on The Bodhisattva Ideal, Mahayana History, and the Ten Transcendent Practices. The scholarship in this introductory section (and throughout) is quiet but commanding: neither stuffily authoritarian or excessively simplified.
Taigen Dan Leighton has conceived a superb idea, a psychological examination of the bodhisattava ideal through modern figures, and executed this idea it with skill and compassion. Thus he shows himself as an author to be an exemplar of the bodhisattvas he re-presents to modern readers in this volume.
Dalit Art and Visual Imagery Edited by Gary Michael Tartakov 02 December 2012 c. 480 Pages | 171 illus. 9.7 x 7.1 inches ISBN: 9780198079361 This volume creates a seamless narrative of Dalit identity through use of visuals and accompanying explanatory texts. Spanning the historical and contemporary period, the volume investigates the representation of Dalit identities in Buddhist imagery, Hindu temples and traditional caste system, popular art and painting, and state-sponsored architecture and sculpture. Raising the face of contemporary untouchability into view, it explores the uses of visual imagery by, for and against Dalits in Indian society. Where are the images of Dalit oppression in the Hindu temple or Dalit triumph in the Navayana Buddhist viharas? How have Dalits used images of B.R. Ambedkar to bring their reality before the nation? How are Dalits attempting to use visual imagery to describe the world around them, work out their own identities and to shape their destinies? The collection offers a variety of approaches to the study of visual imagery and issues of Dalit experience. This book will be of considerable interest to scholars and students of Dalit studies, sociology, modern Indian history, and religion (particularly Buddhism) and others concerned with caste politics.
Christian Science Monitor By Anna Clark / September 4, 2012 There is hardly a schoolchild who is not familiar with haiku, the Japanese art of the tiny poem, constructed out of three lines of 5-7-5 syllables and traditionally evoking images from nature. But while an understanding of haiku is often left at that, its legacy in art and literature is decidedly more complex. In The Art of Haiku, Stephen Addiss illuminates how haiku evolved in the hands of its masters, stretching from the eighth century to the 12th. He purposefully juxtaposes the well-known poetic form with its less famed artistic counterparts: paintings, called haiga, and calligraphy. Fully formed haiku was meant to be experienced both visually and textually. This uncommon book gives us the chance to do just that. Addiss is the right man to author “The Art of Haiku.” He is not only a leading haiku scholar, but also a practicing artist who has exhibited ink paintings and calligraphy around the world. He translates from Japanese, and has a lengthy list of publications. Fittingly, as haiku has its roots in song, Addiss traveled the world as part of the folk music duo Addiss & Crofut. He studied music at Harvard University and, with composer John Cage, at the New School in New York. He didn’t begin his graduate work on East Asia until he was in his late thirties. Fascinating as Addiss himself is, he keeps out of the spotlight in The Art of Haiku. The book is a steady narration on the emergence of haiku, beginning with the courtly tradition of tanka (five-line poems – or songs – of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables) and evolving into new forms, including haiga, haikai (comic verse), and renga, where two or more poets go back and forth to create a chain of linked tanka, shaped by a range of curious rules. “Chinese-derived words were frowned upon, but seasonal references should be included in roughly half the segments […],” Addiss informs us. Some words could only appear once in a thousand verses, including the words for demon, tiger, dragon, and woman. The book is rich with poems – 997 haiku, nearly all translated by Addiss and integrated easily with the text alongside transliterated Japanese originals. Particularly fascinating is the discussion of haiku translation. Idiosyncrasies in the originals, such as pause marks called kijeri (literally, cutting words) leave room for translators to make judgment calls on how to evoke rhythm or amplification. Addiss encourages readers to sound out the Japanese originals – and provides the tools to do so – to hear the music, and he does so with a grace that does not undercut the worth of the gorgeous English versions. He arms readers with a wealth of context on how, for example, the Japanese word for “color” and “passion” is the same. Like the art of haiku itself, Addiss invites readers into the poems, amplifying them with their own experiences and, in a way, collaborating with the poet to complete the poem. There is even an appendix on translation, which sets forth yet more choices in moving haiku between Japanese and English. Addiss presents a haiku by Chiyo in Japanese and lists each word with its literal meaning before indicating that, “Now it is up to you: Will you try to make this a 5-7-5 poem in English? Will you change the line order? Will you use any plurals? What words and rhythms in English do you think can convey this scene best?” What might seem gimmicky is actually an endearing manifestation of how Addiss writes this book as a meeting-of-equals between author, readers, artists, and poets. And what company to keep! There is Lady Murasaki, author of “The Tale of Genji” (probably the world’s first novel), whose title character trades whispered tanka with his wife. There is Saigyō Hōshi, who leaves his luxurious life in the imperial guard to become a Buddhist monk and write searing poems of transience. There is Yosa Buson, the master especially skilled in haiga (he knew it, too). His paintings reproduced here are drawn so simply and sweetly, they look like the figures of comics: emotion is evoked in just a few lines (which is, of course, the same formula for haiku). Kobayashi Issa funneled a tragic life into tiny potent verses. And of course there is Bashō, the wandering poet who, as Addiss puts it, is to haiku what Shakespeare is to theater and Michelangelo is to sculpture. There are times when the clear language of “The Art of Haiku” turns bland, more like the rote recitation of a lecturer than a writer delving into poetic treasures. Addiss’ thorough explanations subdue his enthusiasm: when he does break the even tone to describe a poem as “charming” or “powerful,” it is hard to feel any heat behind it. There are needless textual repetitions that add to the classroom feel – the interesting bit about “color” and “passion” being the same word in Japanese is mentioned three times in eight pages. At its worst, one wonders at the dissonance between the textbook language and the heart-opening art it means to conjure. At its best, however, Addiss’ strategy of keeping his own voice muffled (he uses the pronoun “we” rather than “I”) creates room for the ambitious scope of “The Art of the Haiku,” allowing several centuries worth of poets and artists to hold court without distraction. And, indeed, there they shine. Anna Clark is a freelance writer in Detroit. [link]
Buddhas of The Celestial Gallery + Romio Shrestha + 1601090609 + Hardcover Price: $75.00 Romio Shrestha’s latest large-format art book gathers striking Tibetan-style mandala paintings featuring the Buddha. Each book is hand-bound and two-feet tall, with artwork from master painter Romio Shrestha and his team of artisan monks, who render postmodern interpretations of an age-old Tibetan artistic tradition. Made from malachite, lapis, and marigolds, and painted at times with three hairs of a cat’s tail, these paintings are produced in hauntingly powerful detail. Romio Shrestha is a master of the artistic traditions of Nepal and Tibet. He directs a school of artist-craftsmen in the Katmandu Valley of Tibet. His work can be found in the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, American Museum of Natural History, and Tibet House in New York City. Ian A. Baker studied art history, literature, and comparative religion at Oxford and Columbia universities and medical anthropology at University College London. He has written extensively on the art and culture of Tibet and the Himalayas. Recognized by the National Geographic Society as one of seven “Explorers for the Millennium,” his additional published works include The Heart of the World: A Journey to the Last Secret Place; The Dalai Lama’s Secret Temple: Tantric Wall Paintings from Tibet; and the original edition of Celestial Gallery. He lived in Kathmandu, Nepal, for more than twenty-five years and has studied with some of the greatest luminaries of Tibetan Buddhism, including H. H. the Dalai Lama.
(October 28, 2012, Ann Arbor, Mich.) The Legacy Press has released the debut book by artist Aimee Lee about Korean papermaking called Hanji Unfurled: One Journey into Korean Papermaking (ISBN 9780979797446, hard cover, 208 pp, 10 x 7 inches, full color, 300+ illustrations, $35.00). In the first English-language book about hanji, or Korean handmade paper, Lee recounts stories of meeting papermakers, scholars, and artists from Korean cities, villages, Buddhist temples, and island outposts. Interwoven with personal anecdotes from her yearlong Fulbright Fellowship, Lee describes the process of making and using hanji from harvesting trees to carefully weaving the finished paper into a sculptural vessel. To highlight the importance of hanji and address its endangered status, Lee built the first Korean papermaking studio in North America in 2010 at the Morgan Conservatory in Cleveland, Ohio. She travels across the U.S. to teach and lecture about hanji and related crafts and maintains free digital archives online. Lee’s workshops routinely draw students from around the U.S. and abroad, and her informational videos have received over 600,000 hits. “This book is a valuable resource, a must-read not only for papermakers but for anyone interested in perpetuating honored traditions into an environmentally responsible future.” — Melissa Jay Craig, paper sculptor/book artist. “Aimee is an accomplished writer, and through Hanji Unfurled, she has communicated her valuable perspectives as artist, papermaker, and bilingual ambassador for Korean paper arts.” —Cathleen A. Baker, proprietor of The Legacy Press (est. 1997), which promotes the printing, paper, and bookbinding arts. Author Profile Aimee Lee, a visual artist and papermaker, was born in New York City and researched Korean paper arts on a Fulbright Fellowship (2008-2009). She holds a BA from Oberlin College and MFA from Columbia College Chicago. Her artwork is exhibited internationally and resides in collections that include the Cleveland Institute of Art Gund Library, Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection, Museum of Modern Art Library, and Yale University Library. She travels widely to teach and lecture at colleges, museums, and arts centers while writing about her research and providing hanji resources at aimeelee.net. For more information about Hanji Unfurled or to schedule an interview, please contact Aimee Lee at email@example.com or visit aimeelee.net.
THE CONCEPT OF DANZŌ: ‘Sandalwood Images’ in Japanese Buddhist Sculpture of the 8th to 14th Centuries Christian Boehm ISBN-13 9781872843186, 264pp, hard cover, 287mm x 210mm, 165 colour and black and white illustrations Saffron Asian Art & Society Series This lavishly illustrated volume is the first study in a Western language to examine Buddhist sculptures known as danzō (sandalwood images) and dangan (portable sandalwood shrines) in Japan from the 8th to 14th centuries, including Chinese examples from the 6th to 13th centuries, which were imported into Japan and played a major role in the establishment of an indigenous danzō tradition. The author defines danzō as religious icons in terms of their material, form (iconography and style) and religious functions. This includes a careful examination of major issues in the study of danzō such as the transmission of danzō from India via China to Japan, the choice of substitute materials for sandalwood, carving technique, and danjiki (colour of sandalwood). Most importantly, this study proposes a new definition of the form of danzō based on the distinction between the type-style and period-style. Furthermore, it demonstrates how the aesthetic-religious concept of shōgon (sublime adornment), which is important to Buddhist art in general, is expressed in danzō, making them into objects of shōgon par excellence. A wealth of textual evidence is presented to suggest that the two most common religious functions of danzō were as icons in ceremonies and for personal devotion for high-ranking monks, aristocrats, and members of the imperial family, which reflects the special sanctity and efficacy ascribed to these images. This book aims at a more inclusive understanding of danzō as religious icons with distinctive material, formal and functional characteristics that define them as a unique group of sacred images within Japanese Buddhist sculpture. About the Author Christian Boehm received his BA, MA and PhD in Art and Archaeology from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He is an independent art historian and dealer specialising in East Asian Buddhist sculpture as well as Chinese and Korean ceramics. Contents Acknowledgements 11; Introduction 13-16; Figures 17-79 Chapter One Materials of Danzō 81-106 | 1. Sandalwood and Danzō Carving in India and China 81 2. The Transmission of Danzō to Japan 85 3. Substitute Materials 89 4. Danjiki 97 Chapter Two Form and Functions of Danzō 107-130 | 1. The Meaning of the Term Shōgon 107 2. The Expression of Shōgon in Danzō 111 3. The Function of Danzō in Ceremonies and as Icons for Personal Devotion 116 4. The Function of Danzō as Honzon in Temple Halls and as Tainai Butsu 125 Chapter Three Dangan (Portable Sandalwood Shrines): Miniature Representations of Buddhist Worlds 131-170 | 1. Stūpa-shaped Dangan 138 2. Box-shaped Dangan 148 3. Temple Hall-shaped Dangan 162 4. Incense Container-shaped Boxes 164 Chapter Four Representations of Nyorai 171-186 | 1. Yakushi Nyorai 173 2. Miroku Nyorai 179 3. Shaka Nyorai 181 4. Dainichi Nyorai 182 Chapter Five Representations of Kannon 187-222 | 1. Jūichimen Kannon 190 2. Senju Kannon 207 3. Nyoirin Kannon 210 4. Shō Kannon 212 5. Fukūkensaku Kannon 217 Chapter Six Representations of Bosatsu and Tutelary Deities 223-240 | 1. Miroku Bosatsu 225 2. Monju Bosatsu 227 3. Jizō Bosatsu 229 4. Bonten and Taishakuten 231 5. Aizen Myōō 233 6. Bishamonten 236 Conclusion 241-242; Bibliography 243-252; Glossary Index 253-264
Women in Buddhist Art Price: Rs 2,950.00 ISBN: 978-81-7320-126-6 Author: Vinay Kuamr Rao Size: 29 cm Page: 272 Illus., B/W Year of Publication: 2012 Binding: cloth binding The Author Vinay Kumar Rao (1971) received his school education from Kendriya Vidyalaya. He has obtained his Graduate and Post Graduate degrees from Allahabad University with specialization in Archaeology and done Bachelor of Education from VBS Purvanchal University, Jaunpur and Master in Education from Kurukshetra University. He has completed his Doctoral Research from VBS Purvanchal University, Jaunpur in year 2003-04. He received Junior Research Fellowship from Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi and visited Xi’an, Peoples Republic of China under Wooden fish Academic Exchange Programme. He has received practical training to study coins and inscriptions in situ from Indian Institute of Research in Numismatics, Anjaneri, Nasik and Directorate of Epigraphy, Archaeological Survey of India, Mysore. He has presented number of papers on topics related to Buddhist Sculptural art in International conferences in India and abroad. He is associated with Field School of Archaeology, Ministry of Culture, Union of Myanmar as guest faculty since 2010. He has published three books including Buddhist Sculptural Art of Lower Krishna Valley and Buddhist Art of Pagan. He has good number of publications in field of Archaeology especially in Buddhist Art of India and Myanmar. Vinay Kumar Rao is currently teaching in department of History, Assam University as an Assistant Professor since 2004. The Book The over-arching period of the 2nd century BC to 3rd century AD witnessed the development of Buddhism in India. The period is well known for the growth and development of Buddhist art and architecture and one is able to get a glimpse of contemporary society going through these art forms. Women are an integral part of a society and the position and role of women is a pre-requisite to define the humbleness and harmony of any society. No society can be regarded as civilized and cultured in true sense without acknowledging the status and dignity of women. The archaeological and literary sources have manifested women in various roles since ancient times and are very magnificently projected in early Buddhist sculptural art. The presence of women in Buddhist sculptural do not only implies the cultural manifestations but also highlights the socio-economic role of women in that particular space and time. There are a plethora of inscriptions and sculptural representations that appear in early Buddhist period, which indicate active involvement of women in socio-religious affairs. This changed attitude of society towards women after the advent of Buddhism is very clearly reflected in early Buddhist sculptural art. By going through the detailed depictions of various religious and secular narratives we can observe women in early Buddhist sculptural art in various dimensions. This is also very well affirmed by inscriptions carved on various parts of Buddhist monuments. The book with the help of literary and epigraphically sources intends to present the contemporary diversified and multifarious role of women in early Buddhist sculptural art. In order to authenticate the study, the author has collected source material from various museums and extensively travelled to various Buddhist countries.
The Seven Tengu Scrolls: Evil and the Rhetoric of Legitimacy in Medieval Japanese Buddhism by Haruko Wakabayashi Cloth – 224pp. April 2012 This is a study of visual and textual images of the mythical creature tengu from the late Heian (897–1185) to the late Kamakura (1185–1333) periods. Popularly depicted as half-bird, half-human creatures with beaks or long noses, wings, and human bodies, tengu today are commonly seen as guardian spirits associated with the mountain ascetics known as yamabushi. In the medieval period, however, the character of tengu most often had a darker, more malevolent aspect. Haruko Wakabashi focuses in this study particularly on tengu as manifestations of the Buddhist concept of Māra (or ma), the personification of evil in the form of the passions and desires that are obstacles to enlightenment. Her larger aim is to investigate the use of evil in the rhetoric of Buddhist institutions of medieval Japan. Through a close examination of tengu that appear in various forms and contexts, Wakabayashi considers the functions of a discourse on evil as defined by the Buddhist clergy to justify their position and marginalize others. Early chapters discuss Buddhist appropriations of tengu during the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries in relation to the concept of ma. Multiple interpretations of ma developed in response to changes in society and challenges to the Buddhist community, which recruited tengu in its efforts to legitimize its institutions. The highlight of the work discusses in detail the thirteenth-century narrative scroll Tengu zōshi (also known as the Shichi Tengu-e, or the Seven Tengu Scrolls), in which monks from prominent temples in Nara and Kyoto and leaders of “new” Buddhist sects (Pure Land and Zen) are depicted as tengu. Through a close analysis of the Tengu zōshi’s pictures and text, the author reveals one aspect of the critique against Kamakura Buddhism and how tengu images were used to express this in the late thirteenth century. She concludes with a reexamination of the meaning of tengu and a discussion of how ma was essentially socially constructed not only to explain the problems that plague this world, but also to justify the existence of an institution that depended on the presence of evil for its survival. Drawing on a wide range of primary sources, Wakabayashi provides a thoughtful and innovative analysis of history and religion through art. The Seven Tengu Scrolls will therefore appeal to those with an interest in Japanese art, history, and religion, as well as in interdisciplinary approaches to socio-cultural history. 36 illus., 4 in color
Bangkok Post Published: 21/09/2012
Zangdok Palri: The Lotus Light Palace of Guru Rinpoche is book that can never be duplicated. Not only because the photographic journey took her, in three years, to over 11 temples all around the mountain kingdom of Bhutan, many of which can be reached only after hours of arduous trekking. Or that the murals she photographed were mostly hidden from public eye, in the inner sanctum of the dzongs, and only partially lit, or that the angles were almost impossible. Or even that the text on Guru Rinpoche was written by eminent yet reclusive scholars who took a year to research and digest rare and sacred texts sourced from various monasteries before writing into religious Bhutanese text and then translated into English. But also because this project was inspired and supported by Her Majesty Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck _ Royal Grandmother to the present king of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck _ who even allowed her own private collection of thangka to be included in the book. As such, it is the most ambitious and comprehensive book on the mythical heavenly abode of Guru Rinpoche as depicted in mural paintings and thangkas in Bhutan. When Supawan revived her childhood passion for photography after winding up her restaurant business in 2005, she had no idea who Guru Rinpoche was. On her first photography trip to Tibet with a group of international photographers, she visited the first temple built by the revered guru, but wasn’t even aware of the significance of it then. Only much later did she learn how the Himalayan region regard Guru Rinpoche as a Second Buddha, an Indian sage from a Brahmin family who attained enlightenment and transmitted Vajrayana Buddhism, as opposed to Thailand’s Theravada or East Asia’s Mahayana Buddhism, to Bhutan, Tibet and the surrounding mountain region in the 8th century. His heavenly abode is known as Zangdok Palri (the Copper-coloured Mountain). It was precisely a temple known as Zangdok Palri of Kurjey in Bumthang that was the start of this ambitious undertaking. The exquisite Zangdok Palri of Kurjey in Bumthang was built by the Royal Grandmother in dedication to her own parents, and Supawan was so inspired by its beauty that she published a book on it illustrated by her own photographic images. The book piqued her interest in the concept of Zangdok Palri that she decided to publish another book on the topic. She contacted Tulku Thondup, a visiting scholar at Harvard University who had written the translation of a prayer book given to her by the Royal Grandmother, and asked if he could pen a text on the subject for her book. “He said he was getting old and he was very busy, but he might send along 10 pages of text for me,” said Supawan. “A couple of months passed by, and he reverted to me… with about 60 pages of text. “I decided I would have to match it with suitable pictures.” A list of temples that had murals on Zangdok Palri was acquired from the National Archives, and Supawan proceeded to checklist the lot, visiting as many as she could to take photos of the murals with the blessings of the Royal Grandmother and the abbots of each temple. “Sometimes the listed temples didn’t have the said murals, and sometimes we also discovered other temples that were not listed but had the murals,” she laughed. Each mural had its own particular obstacle which Supawan had to overcome. Sometimes a difficult trek meant carrying as little equipment as possible, and friends and family had to take turns holding the lights like human tripods. “The temple caretaker and monks also turned themselves into our camera crew when we needed them,” she added. Often the murals would be hidden behind curtains, or on obscure walls in semi-darkness. There were murals obstructed by images of Buddhas and deities. “I prayed a lot,” remarked Supawan. Somehow her prayers were heard, and she found a way to overcome each problem. She has also learned a lot in terms of photography techniques. She had no idea how to photograph a mural at first, and called on Chotiwat Punnopatham who she knew from a previous workshop. He taught her how to break down the murals into panels, take the pictures one panel at a time, and merge them using a computer programme. Being the perfectionist that she is, however, the result was still not to her liking, so she recruited the help of Chotiwat on the project. He took up the challenge without even knowing what he was in for. By the end of the project, he was pleading, “No more trekking, please.” But his technical know-how has proved to be invaluable, particularly in the colour separation process to get perfect clarity. Not particularly an outdoor adventurer by nature, Supawan herself also balked at the thought of trekking hours for a photo at first, but by the end of the project a three-hour trek was nothing to her. Physical challenges aside, it was the spiritual journey that she felt profoundly during the course of the project. “I used to be very stressed out before. But it seemed the higher I climbed, the calmer I became. It has become a spiritual pilgrimage for me; not just a photographic assignment. “I never thought I would be working on a book like this in the first place,” laughed Supawan. “It’s not my field. I’m a cook, for heaven’s sake!” While in Bangkok for the book launch and photo exhibition recently, presided over by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn at Siam Paragon, HRH Ashi Pema Lhadon Wangchuck, younger sister of the previous king of Bhutan, and daughter of Her Majesty the Royal Grandmother, and her daughter, Ashi Kesang Choden Tashi Wangchuck, editor of this book, granted an interview to the Bangkok Post. “There are a lot of prayers in Bhutan on Guru Rinpoche’s spiritual palace but nothing in English to help with your visualisation,” noted Ashi Kesang Choden Tashi Wangchuck, who played an integral role in the translation and editing of all the text. “In terms of that, this is a very valuable book, because it showcases Guru Rinpoche’s time in Bhutan as well as many holy places there. Many of the places are so pristine, and not many people have been there. “The Royal Grandmother didn’t imagine the book would turn out to be this beautiful and this detailed,” she added. “It’s a very important project for her life because she does a lot of charitable work, and she plays a great part in preserving the spiritual heritage.” HRH Ashi Pema Lhadon remarked softly, “The Royal Grandmother feels so touched by the whole team who worked on the book. It is like an offering to Guru Rinpoche.” [link]
Signs from the Unseen Realm: Buddhist Miracle Tales from Early Medieval China by Robert Ford Campany Cloth – Price: $65.00 328pp. March 2012 In early medieval China hundreds of Buddhist miracle texts were circulated, inaugurating a trend that would continue for centuries. Each tale recounted extraordinary events involving Chinese persons and places—events seen as verifying claims made in Buddhist scriptures, demonstrating the reality of karmic retribution, or confirming the efficacy of Buddhist devotional practices. Robert Ford Campany, one of North America’s preeminent scholars of Chinese religion, presents in this volume the first complete, annotated translation, with in-depth commentary, of the largest extant collection of miracle tales from the early medieval period, Wang Yan’s Records of Signs from the Unseen Realm, compiled around 490 C.E. In addition to the translation, Campany provides a substantial study of the text and its author in their historical and religious settings. He shows how these lively tales helped integrate Buddhism into Chinese society at the same time that they served as platforms for religious contestation and persuasion. Campany offers a nuanced, clear methodological discussion of how such narratives, being products of social memory, may be read as valuable evidence for the history of religion and culture. Readers interested in Buddhism; historians of Chinese religions, culture, society, and literature; scholars of comparative religion: All will find Signs from the Unseen Realm a stimulating and rich contribution to scholarship.
The Splendid Vision: Reading a Buddhist Sutra Richard S. Cohen Paper, 176 pages, ISBN: 978-0-231-15669-1 $22.50 / £15.50 April, 2012 Cloth, 176 pages, ISBN: 978-0-231-15668-4 $69.50 / £48.00 Featuring the first-ever English translation of the “Splendid Vision Sutra,” a sixth-century Indian Mahayana Buddhist scripture known for its rich ritual magic and worship of bodhisattva-goddesses, this volume explicates the text’s cultural significance as a source of extraordinary value, cosmic truth, and existential meaning. The ancient author of the “Splendid Vision Sutra” promises every imaginable reward to those who heed its words and rites, whether one’s desire is to become king, enjoy heavenly pleasures for thousands of millennia, or attain the spiritual summit of advanced bodhisattvahood. Richard S. Cohen carefully analyzes this religious rhetoric, developing a heuristic model of “scripture” that extends beyond Buddhist literature. In his framework, a text becomes sacred scripture when a community accepts it as a receptacle of extraordinary value, an authoritative source of cosmic truth, and a guide for meaningful action. While clarifying these points, Cohen untangles the discursive skein through which the “Splendid Vision Sutra” expresses its authority, inspires readers to accept that authority, and promises superior power and accomplishments to those who implement its teachings. Exploring ways of living and reading a text, Cohen draws on Marcel Duchamp’s theory of found art, Jerzy Grotowski’s idealization of the holy actor, and other formulations, identifying contingencies, uncertainties, and incompleteness in the lived present and its determination of our reception of the past. More than a mere introduction to an important work, The Splendid Vision opens a window into religious experience and practice in contemporary environments as well as in the world of the sutra. About the Author Richard S. Cohen is associate professor of South Asian religious literatures and director of the Program for the Study of Religion at the University of California, San Diego. He earned his Ph.D. in Buddhist studies from the University of Michigan and is the author of Beyond Enlightenment: Buddhism, Religion, Modernity.
Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons: Nature, Literature, and the Arts by Haruo Shirane March, 2012 Cloth, 336 pages, 27 color illus.; 6 black-and-white ISBN: 978-0-231-15280-8 $29.50 / £20.50 Elegant representations of nature and the four seasons populate a wide range of Japanese genres and media—from poetry and screen painting to tea ceremonies, flower arrangements, and annual observances. In Japan and the Culture of the Four Seasons, Haruo Shirane shows how, when, and why this practice developed and explicates the richly encoded social, religious, and political meanings of this imagery. Refuting the belief that this tradition reflects Japan’s agrarian origins and supposedly mild climate, Shirane traces the establishment of seasonal topics to the poetry composed by the urban nobility in the eighth century. After becoming highly codified and influencing visual arts in the tenth and eleventh centuries, the seasonal topics and their cultural associations evolved and spread to other genres, eventually settling in the popular culture of the early modern period. Contrasted with the elegant images of nature derived from court poetry was the agrarian view of nature based on rural life. The two landscapes began to intersect in the medieval period, creating a complex, layered web of competing associations. Shirane discusses a wide array of representations of nature and the four seasons in many genres, originating in both the urban and rural perspective: textual (poetry, chronicles, tales), cultivated (gardens, flower arrangement), material (kimonos, screens), performative (noh, festivals), and gastronomic (tea ceremony, food rituals). He reveals how this kind of “secondary nature,” which flourished in Japan’s urban architecture and gardens, fostered and idealized a sense of harmony with the natural world just at the moment it was disappearing. Illuminating the deeper meaning behind Japanese aesthetics and artifacts, Shirane clarifies the use of natural images and seasonal topics and the changes in their cultural associations and function across history, genre, and community over more than a millennium. In this fascinating book, the four seasons are revealed to be as much a cultural construction as a reflection of the physical world. About the Author Haruo Shirane is Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature and Culture at Columbia University. He is the author and editor of numerous books on Japanese literature, including, most recently, The Demon at Agi Bridge and Other Japanese Tales; Envisioning The Tale of Genji: Media, Gender, and Cultural Production; Traditional Japanese Literature: An Anthology, Beginnings to 1600; Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology, 1600–1900; Classical Japanese: A Grammar; and Traces of Dreams: Landscape, Cultural Memory, and the Poetry of Bashō.
Nothing and Everything The Influence of Buddhism on the American Avant Garde 1942 – 1962 By Ellen Pearlman EVOLVER EDITIONS www.NorthAtlanticBooks.com With over 350 million Buddhists worldwide, Buddhism in America is no longer a marginal religion—it is currently the fourth largest belief system in the country. Nothing and Everything – The Influence of Buddhism on the American Avant Garde: 1942–1962 is the first book to thoroughly investigate the impact of Buddhism on post-war American culture, particularly on performing, visual, sonic, inter-media and literary arts in the country’s cultural hub of New York City. In America in the late 1950s and early 60s, the world—and life itself—became a legitimate artist’s tool, aligning with Zen Buddhism’s emphasis on “enlightenment at any moment” and living in the now. Simultaneously and independently, parallel movements were occurring in Japan, as artists there, too, strove to break down artistic boundaries. Nothing and Everything brings these heady times into focus. Author Ellen Pearlman meticulously traces the spread of Buddhist ideas in the art and cultural worlds through the classes of legendary scholar D. T. Suzuki as well as those of his most famous student, composer and teacher John Cage, from whose teachings on experimental composition sprouted the art movement Fluxus and the “happenings” of the 1960s, among others. Pearlman details the interaction of these American artists with the Japanese Hi Red Center and the multi-installation group Gutai. Back in New York, abstract-expressionist artists founded The Club, which held lectures on Zen and featured Japan’s first abstract painter, Saburo Hasegawa. And in the literary world, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsburg were using Buddhism in their search for new forms and visions of their own. These multiple journeys led to startling breakthroughs in artistic and literary style—and influenced an entire generation. Filled with rare photographs and groundbreaking primary source material, Nothing and Everything is the definitive history of this pivotal time for the American arts.
Book Name: The Life of the Buddha: Buddhist and Saiva Iconography and Visual Narratives in Artists Sketchbooks Gudrun Buhnemann with Transliterations and Translations from the Newari by Kashinath Tamot Price: US$ 50.00 ABOUT THE BOOK: This book describes, analyses and reproduces line drawings from two manuscripts and a related section from a third manuscript. These are: 1) Manuscript M.82.169.2, preserved in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (circa late nineteenth century) 2) Manuscript 82.242.1-24, preserved in the Newark Museum (from the later part of the twentieth century) and 3) A section from manuscript 440 in the private collection of Ian Alsop, Santa Fe, New Mexico (early twentieth century). The line drawings depict Hindu/Saiva and Buddhist deities and themes, but the Buddhist material is predominant, as one would expect in artists sketchbooks from Patan. The sketchbooks are important for several reasons. They provide drawings of a large number of deities, including some groups rarely depicted elsewhere. Among them are the Eight Great Bodhisattvas, the Eight Siddhas, the Nine Serpents and-corresponding to the months of the year-twelve forms of Narayana and Lokesvara, and (associated with the ekadasi days of the months) twelve forms of Mahadeva. Many of the deities and legends are relevant to contemporary Newar Buddhism. The two narratives are of special interest. They deal with the life story of Sakyamuni Buddha and the legend of Sarvajnamitra (pada). The illustrated life story of the Buddha follows the Newar tradition, which incorporates the episodes of the sufferings of Yasodhara after Sarvarthasiddhas departure and of the Buddhas (return) journey to Lumbini (lumbiniyatra). The book also contains a longer section on Sristikarta Lokesvara, a form of Avalokitesvara who emanates Brahmanical divinities from his body. ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gudrun Buhnemann is Professor in the Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia at The University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA. Her recent publications include The Iconography of Hindu Tantric Deities (2 volumes, Groningen, 2000-01), Mandalas and Yantras in the Hindu Traditions (Leiden, 2003; New Delhi, 2007), Eighty-four Asanas in Yoga. [link]
Colorful Realm Japanese Bird-and-Flower Paintings by Ito Jakuchu Yukio Lippit With Ota Aya, Oka Yasuhiro, and Hayakawa Yasuhiro Photography by Shirono Seiji 224 pages | 301 color plates | 9-5/8 x 11 | © 2012 Cloth $50.00 ISBN: 9780226484600 Published April 2012 A much-anticipated harbinger of spring, the cherry blossom is also exemplary of the Japanese artistic aesthetic—a delight in simple, natural beauty and an attentiveness to the changing seasons. This spring will mark the centennial of Japan’s gift of three thousand cherry trees to Washington, DC, and this sumptuously illustrated catalogue is the companion to a celebratory exhibition at the National Gallery of Art featuring the work of Ito Jakuchu. Jakuchu (1716–1800), a wealthy wholesaler and talented painter, is, in Japan, the most recognized artist of the premodern era. His thirty-scroll set of bird-and-flower paintings titled Colorful Realm of Living Beings is a renowned cultural treasure, one of the most beautiful and skilled examples of how the natural world is depicted and symbolized in Japanese art. Presenting gorgeous flora and fauna in meticulous detail, the scrolls are reunited here with Jakuchu’s triptych of the Buddha Sakyamuni from the Zen monastery Shokokuji in Kyoto. This stunning volume reproduces these masterpieces of Edo-period art and complements them with extensive background material on their significance. Recent conservation of the scrolls has revealed new information about the materials and techniques used by Jakuchu, and those findings are discussed in the volume, offering a multifaceted understanding of the artist’s virtuosity and innovation as a painter. As the first English-language examination and overseas display of Jakuchu’s Colorful Realm in its entirety, the book and exhibition will offer new audiences a chance to encounter this landmark work— generously lent by the Imperial Household Agency, Tokyo.
Buddha in the Yurt Buddhist Art from Mongolia Edited by Carmen Meinert Distributed for Hirmer Publishers With Photographs by Achim Bunz 840 pages | 550 color plates | 9 1/2 x 11 2/5 Cloth $179.00 ISBN: 9783777443515 Published March 2012 For sale in Canada, Mexico, and the USA Since the introduction of Buddhism to Mongolia in the seventeenth century, art has emerged as an important component of Buddhist culture. Drawing on a large privately owned collection of Mongolian and Tibetan art, this volume reproduces a carefully chosen selection of paintings, scrolls, statues, shrines, amulets, tablets, and ritual implements dating as far back as the eleventh century. From Zanabazar’s bronze cast Buddhas to the numerous gorgeous images of Indian siddhas, Tibetan masters, protective deities, and boddhisatvas, the objects reflect the broad scope of artistic influences in Buddhist art ranging from Tibet to the Qing Dynasty in China. Accompanying each illustration and adding depth to the volume are descriptions that situate the work within Buddhist iconography and the rich symbolism of the Tantric Buddhist tradition. At the end of the volumes are comprehensive English and Russian glossaries (and respectively German and Mongolian glossaries with 450 entries each; for all entries the respective translations in four languages are provided (Mongolian, Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese). All of the artworks appear here for the first time in print, making this an essential addition to the literature on East Asian religion, culture, and art. * Contents Contents Combined Russian/English Edition Introduction Tibetica Mongolica 1. Buddhas 2. Arhats, Teachers, and Siddhas 3. Bodhisattvas 4. General Vajrayāna Deities and Maṇḍalas 5. Yidams 6. Protective Deities 7. Ritual Items and Miscellaneous Notes Inscriptions Glossary
Buddha’s Brush, Buddha’s Paste Rebirth of a Taima-Mandala Restoration and Origin Hai-Yen Hua-Ströfer HICA Edition Bilingual: German/English 220 pages, 33.5 x 25 cm 363 colour illustrations Hardcover, cloth-bound, with slip case ISBN 978-3-00-030338-8 Hai-Yen Hua-Ströfer: “As a restorer, I was delighted to make the acquaintance of a rather special rarity: a Japanese Taima-Mandala from the 14th century arrived in my workshop. Just as a cocoon slowly unravels when the silken thread is pulled, the picture’s design, its painting techniques and its historical/spiritual background yielded up their secrets to me as the work proceeded. “I recorded the experiential wonders of my voyage of discovery in numerous pictures, which I would now like to share with you. Like a treasure chest, this bilingual book can be used to dip into the mandala repeatedly as a cornucopia of artistically applied craftsmanship and aesthetic delights. “It is divided into three sections: first of all, the reader is invited to follow the restoration work, from the initial planning through to final framing. The European and Far Eastern working methods are shown in many illustrations, presenting both the tools and the materials employed. “The second section explores the mandala’s creation and its teachings, as Buddhism spread along the Silk Road, from its origins in India, to its full flowering in Tang Dynasty China, and onward to Japan. “In the third section the treasure hunt proceeds to the spiritual sources of this Taima-Mandala, examining how it translates the Contemplation Sūtra into visual images. “The sūtra is presented to us as a vivid historical drama. On the first of the three stages, the inspirational story of an Indian royal family unfolds, adumbrating the path to self-cultivation. “On the other two stages, the aim is to purify the consciousness and attain true wisdom. “Finally, in the centre of the mandala, the aspirant reaches the Pure Land of Buddha Amitābha. “This huge painted mandala was restored using modern concepts of technology, intimate knowledge of the materials involved, and due respect for its thematic integrity. In addition, in etymological faithfulness to the Latin word “restaurare”, and in serene mindfulness of Buddha’s teachings, the picture’s exhilarating vitality was renewed and in a very literal sense restored. Alleviation of suffering and renewal of the world are the core and quintessence of Buddha Amitābha´s Contemplation Sūtra. “I hope that reading and browsing in this book will give you hours of pleasure.”
The Face of Jizo: Image and Cult in Medieval Japanese Buddhism Author: Glassman, Hank University of Hawai‘i Press 304pp. January 2012 Cloth – Price: $52.00ISBN: 978-0-8248-3443-2 Paper – Price: $25.00ISBN: 978-0-8248-3581-1 Stone images of the Buddhist deity Jizo—bedecked in a red cloth bib and presiding over offerings of flowers, coins, candles, and incense—are a familiar sight throughout Japan. Known in China as a savior from hell’s torment, Jizo in Japan came to be utterly transformed through fusion with the local tradition of kami worship and ancient fertility cults. In particular, the Jizo cult became associated with gods of borders or transitions: the stone gods known as dosojin. Although the study of Jizo is often relegated to the folkloric, The Face of Jizo: Image and Cult in Medieval Japanese Buddhism, a highly original and readable book by Hank Glassman, demonstrates that the bodhisattva’s cult was promoted and embraced at the most elite levels of society.
“By wrapping the Japanese images of the bodhisattva Jizō in their intriguing individual and collective stories, The Face of Jizō emphasizes the movement of this deity, who not only protects travellers but also treks between hell and paradise in his quest to save sentient beings. Professor Glassman has created a major contribution to studies of cult images that extends well beyond art historical analyses to delve into other fascinating areas of inquiry. The author’s thorough research, lively writing style, and deft exposition of exciting tales guide readers on a magnificent journey through the history, literature, performance, and visual culture related to Jizō in Japan from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century. From lavishly colored paintings and sculptures to simple stones, beloved images of Jizō are brought to life in the pages of this book.” —Sherry Fowler, University of Kansas
Hakuho Sculpture Donald F. McCallum paperback not available $50.00s hardcover (9780295991306) Add to Cart Published: January 2012 Subject Listing: Art History, Asian Studies Bibliographic information: 160 pp., 50 illus., notes, index, 7 x 10 in. Published with: Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas Series: Franklin D. Murphy Lecture Series Hakuho Sculpture is the first book in any language devoted entirely to Japanese sculpture of the Hakuho period (c. 650 – 710 CE ). It focuses on the stylistic development and aesthetic qualities of Buddhist imagery through a careful study of gilt-bronze Buddhist icons from one of the most creative periods of Japanese Buddhist art. This close analysis of practically all extant Hakuho images reveals much about the creative activities of the ancient sculptors. The Hakuho period is frequently considered alongside the preceding Asuka period (c. 590 – 650), suggesting some type of organic development from one period to the next. This understanding is somewhat distorted, given the significant differences in sculptural styles between the two periods. Donald McCallum explains the differences as resulting from divergent sources in China and Korea and unique attitudes toward the making of images. Donald F. McCallum is professor of Japanese art history at the University of California, Los Angeles, and author of Zenkoji and Its Icon: A Study of Medieval Japanese Religious Art and The Four Great Temples: Buddhist Archaeology, Architecture, and Icons of Seventh-Century Japan.
Book Review by Jonathan Ciliberto, 26 December 2011 The Listening Book Discovering Your Own Music By W. A. Mathieu published by Shambhala Paperback List Price: $17.95 978-1-59030-831-8 Aspects of oneself innate or ever-present are often overlooked when considering self-improvement. For instance, while people regularly train themselves to speak better French or acquire a better golf game, it is less obvious that one would seek to improve one’s mind or being. And what about listening? Like seeing or smelling, one imagines listening to be fixed, not needing (or capable of) improvement, at least without physical or mechanical means. Buddhist meditation, of course, similarly begins with the premise that something seemingly fixed can take improvement. The Listening Book is a collection of anecdotes and exercises intended to improve listening, and thereby to find one’s own music. Originally published in 1991, it was re-issued this year, its text completely re-set, with new cover art. Although not explicitly about Buddhism, it partakes of many Buddhist approaches, including mindfulness, compassion, and ego-reduction. On the one hand, the author’s premise is simple: everyone has ears, and so everyone can hear music. On the other, it is subtle, investigating psychological aspects of listening, the metaphysics of music-making, and the primacy of attention to full experience as a listener and musician. [more]
Secrets of the Sacred Empowering Buddhist Images in Clear, in Code, and in Cache HELMUT BRINKER PUBLISHED: June 2011 BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 224 pp., 116 illus., notes, glossary, bibliog., index, 7 x 10 in. Secrets of the Sacred illuminates the role of icons and relics in Buddhist writing and practice, with particular attention to the transformation of inanimate material images into potent icons animated by the divine. The earliest canonical scriptures indicate that images of the Buddha were created before the concept of transcendental identity was developed. Later writings reveal a connectedness between image and deity, and eventually art transformed into a means of creating a receptive environment for communication with the divine power and attaining wisdom. Icons became the perceivable bodies of the divine. Esoteric practices within Buddhism trace back at least as far as the first century CE but did not develop into a religio-philosophic movement until after the fifth century. They relied on “mysteries” handed down from teacher to pupil. Sacred texts provided clear descriptions of the qualities and appearance of the Esoteric pantheon, but were so elaborate that they challenged the imagination and skill of Buddhist artists. Brinker traces the original meaning and function of individual icons and relics across the various schools of Buddhism. He discusses their origin, style, meaning, and individual histories. Beautiful illustrations complement the histories of these important icons and relics.
Medicine Master Buddha: The Iconic Worship of Yakushi in Heian Japan Yui Suzuki ISSN: 2210-2868 ISBN13: 9789004196018 2011 Hardback Pages, Illustrations: 192 pp., 60 full-color illus. Imprint: BRILL Language: English This profusely illustrated volume illuminates the primacy of icons in disseminating the worship of the Medicine Master Buddha (J: Yakushi Nyorai) in Japan. Suzuki’s meticulous study explicates how the devotional cult of Yakushi, one of the earliest Buddhist cults imported to Japan from the continent, interacted and blended with local beliefs, religious dispositions, and ritual practices over the centuries, developing its own distinctive imprint on Japanese soil. Worship of the Medicine Master Buddha became most influential during the Heian period (794–1185), when Yakushi’s popularity spread to different levels of society and locales outside the capital. The large number of Heian-period Yakushi statues found all across Japan demonstrates that Yakushi worship was an integral component of Heian religious practice. Medicine Master Buddha focuses on the ninth-century Tendai master Saichō (767–822) and his personal reverence for a standing Yakushi icon. The author proposes that, after Saichō’s death, the Tendai school played a critical role in popularizing the cult of this particular icon as a way of memorializing its founding master and strengthening its position as a major school of Japanese Buddhism. This publication offers a fresh perspective on sculptural representations of the Medicine Master Buddha (including the famous Jingoji Yakushi), and in so doing, reconsiders Yakushi worship as foundational to Heian religious and artistic culture.
ARCHITECTURE OF THE NEWARS: A HISTORY OF BUILDING TYPOLOGIES AND DETAILS IN NEPAL (3 VOLUMES) Niels Gutschow Architecture of the Newars by Niels Gutschow presents the entire history of architecture in the Valley of Kathmandu and its neighbours over a period of 1,500 years – right up to the present. It is a rare tribute to an urban culture which has preserved fascinating lifestyles to this very day. Gutschow first travelled to Nepal in 1962, returning in 1970 after reading architecture, and has constantly worked since then on the connections between ritual and the city. Since 1980 he has worked with measured drawings to identify the various building typologies, which are documented in three volumes with 862 photos and 939 drawings. The first volume presents the complexity of the sacred landscape of the Valley and the urban context as well as the early periods, Buddhist votive structures (caityas), architectural fragments and temples from the early periods (5th-14th century). The second volume presents the Malla period (1350-1769) with a host of drawings documenting caityas, maths, tiered temples,shrines and monasteries. The third volume presents the modern period with temples and palaces of the Shaha kings and the Ranas; a variety of new caitya types; domestic architecture of the early 20th century; modern architecture and urban planning. The final chapter presents selected architectural details populated by airborne spirits in a transcultural perspective. Gutschow was born in 1941 in Hamburg, and currently lives in Abtsteinach, Germany and Bhaktapur, Nepal. He is an honorary professor at the University of Heidelberg, South Asia Institute.
MONGOLIAN BUDDHIST ART: MASTERPIECES FROM THE MUSEUMS OF MONGOLIA Volume I, Part 1 & 2: Thangkas, Embroideries, and Appliqués Edited by Zara Fleming and J. Lkhagvademchig Shastri Mongolian Buddhist Art: Masterpieces from the Museums of Mongolia presents for the first time 441 masterpieces of Mongolian Buddhist art from five major Mongolian museums: the Bogd Kahn Palace Museum, the Choijin Lama Temple Museum, the Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts, the Erdene Zuu Museum and the Danzanravjaa Museum. Selected by the Centre for Cultural Heritage in conjunction with the curators of the participating museums, these pieces were chosen for their religious and historical importance, their aesthetic and technical quality, their uniquely Mongolian characteristics and their rarity. Volume 1: Thangkas, Appliqués and Embroideries is divided into eight chapters — encompassing within these three media the visual realms of the Buddhas and his disciples, mahasiddhas, Indian, Tibetan, and Mongolian scholars, previous reincarnations, yidams, dakinis, protectors and sacred architecture. Although constrained by the rules of Buddhist iconography and strongly influenced by Tibetan art, the Mongolians have succeeded in creating many works that are uniquely Mongolian, a highly expressive and vibrant tradition that can be seen in this volume. Dating from the late 17th to the 20th century, these examples provide rich materials for the present and future studies of Buddhist art and its heritage in Mongolia
Mirror of the Buddha: Early Portraits from Tibet David P. Jackson , with contributions from Donald Rubin, Jan van Alphen, and Christian Luczanits Traditional Tibetan art is largely the fruit of Buddhism; it is meant to convey spiritual truths. In their art, Tibetans aimed at faithfully transmitting and preserving Buddhism as a spiritual discipline as they had learned it from their Indian Buddhist teachers, either directly or through a transmission that included early Tibetan teachers. Each thangka painting was a small contribution to the larger cause of keeping Buddhism alive and radiant. In this third volume on Tibetan Painting David Jackson, with Christian Luczanits, investigates painted portraits of such early Tibetan teachers. Images of these eminent personages embodied Buddhist ideals in often idealized human form. In creating these depictions, Tibetan painters of the twelfth through fourteenth century intensely imitated the artistic conventions developed in Pala- and Sena-ruled eastern India (Bengal). This style, called Sharri, spread from India to many parts of Asia, but its classic Indian forms, delicate colors, and intricate decorative details were emulated most faithfully by the Tibetans. Price: $75 (Hardcover), $60 (Paperback) Member Price: $67.50 (Hardcover), $54 (Paperback) Publisher: Rubin Museum of Art, New York Distributor: University of Washington Press, Settle and London Published: October 2011 Pages: 240 ISBN-13: 978-09845190-2-6 (hc), 13: 978-0-9845190-3-3 (pb) Buddhist Art and Mandalas of Tibet Verfasst von pw am Mo, 08/01/2011 – 18:47. Mori Masahide (森雅秀): Chibetto no Bukkyō bijutsu to mandara (チベットの仏教美術とマンダラ) / Mori Masahide cho. – Nagoya (名古屋) : Nagoya Daigaku Shuppankai = The University of Nagoya Press (名古屋大学出版会), 2011. – viii, 315,  S. : Ill. Übersetzung des Titels: Buddhist Art and Mandalas of Tibet ISBN 978-4-8158-0670-5 YEN 12600 DDC: 704.948943923
Sri Lankan Buddhist Art – Southern Tradition ISBN-10: 9556713360 ISBN-13: 9789556713367 Author: Gamini Jayasinghe. Publisher: Sarasavi Publishers Quick Overview This is the final Trilogy of volumes on Sri Lankan Buddhist Paintings. The Grandeur of Sri Lankan Buddhist Art on the classical school. Post Classical revival is the second volume on Kandyan school and present one Southern Tradition is the last volume on this Trilogy. Details These volumes will also comprise a lasting and highly noteworthy archive and record of Sri Lamka’s monumental Buddhist Art heritage. Many of these masterpieces are threatened with with decay; and some in the book are now hardly recognizable. These volumes will be invaluable to collectors and libraries for research, reference and general reading.
Buddhist Practice and Visual Culture The Visual Rhetoric of Borobudur By Julie Gifford Published March 14th 2011 by Routledge – 228 pages Series: Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism Hardback: 978-0-415-78098-8: $138.00 Providing an overall interpretation of the Buddhist monument Borobudur in Indonesia, this book looks at Mahayana Buddhist religious ideas and practices that could have informed Borobudur, including both the narrative reliefs and the Buddha images. The author explores a version of the classical Mahayana that foregrounds the importance of the visual in relation to Buddhist philosophy, meditation, devotion, and ritual. The book goes on to show that the architects of Borobudur designed a visual world in which the Buddha appeared in a variety of forms and could be interpreted in three ways: by realizing the true nature of his teaching, through visionary experience, and by encountering his numinous presence in images. Furthermore, the book analyses a particularly comprehensive and programmatic expression of Mahayana Buddhist visual culture so as to enrich the theoretical discussion of the monument. It argues that the relief panels of Borobudur do not passively illustrate, but rather creatively “picture” selected passages from texts. Presenting new material, the book contributes immensely to a new and better understanding of the significance of the Borobudur for the field of Buddhist and Religious Studies.
A Concise History Of Buddhist Art In Siam Reginald Le May (Author) Buddha – Dharma -Buddhism opens new browser window Hardcover: 278 pages Publisher: Literary Licensing, LLC (July 9, 2011) Language: English ISBN-10: 1258061112 ISBN-13: 978-1258061111 Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 0.7 inches
Travels in the Netherworld: Buddhist Popular Narratives of Death and the Afterlife in Tibet Bryan J. Cuevas Paperback 01 November 2011 216 Pages 6.14 x 9.21 inches ISBN: 9780199895557 In Travels in the Netherworld, Bryan J. Cuevas examines a fascinating but little-known genre of Tibetan narrative literature about the délok, ordinary men and women who claim to have died, traveled through hell, and then returned from the afterlife. These narratives enjoy audiences ranging from the most sophisticated monastic scholars to pious townsfolk, villagers, and nomads. Their accounts emphasize the universal Buddhist principles of impermanence and worldly suffering, the fluctuations of karma, and the feasibility of obtaining a favorable rebirth through virtue and merit. Providing a clear, detailed analysis of four vivid return-from-death tales, including the stories of a Tibetan housewife, a lama, a young noble woman, and a Buddhist monk, Cuevas argues that these narratives express ideas about death and the afterlife that held wide currency among all classes of faithful Buddhists in Tibet. Relying on a diversity of traditional Tibetan sources, Buddhist canonical scriptures, scholastic textbooks, ritual and meditation manuals, and medical treatises, in addition to the délok works themselves, Cuevas surveys a broad range of popular Tibetan Buddhist ideas about death and dying. He explores beliefs about the vulnerability of the soul and its journey beyond death, karmic retribution and the terrors of hell, the nature of demons and demonic possession, ghosts, and reanimated corpses. Cuevas argues that these extraordinary accounts exhibit flexibility between social and religious categories that are conventionally polarized and concludes that, contrary to the accepted wisdom, such rigid divisions as elite and folk, monastic and lay religion are not sufficiently representative of traditional Tibetan Buddhism on the ground. This study offers innovative perspectives on popular religion in Tibet and fills a gap in an important field of Tibetan literature.
The Tibetan Book of the Dead: A Biography Donald S. Lopez, Jr. Cloth | 2011 | $19.95 / £13.95 192 pp. | 4 1/2 x 7 1/2 e-Book | 2011 | $19.95 | ISBN: 978-1-4008-3804-2 Introduction [PDF] The Tibetan Book of the Dead is the most famous Buddhist text in the West, having sold more than a million copies since it was first published in English in 1927. Carl Jung wrote a commentary on it, Timothy Leary redesigned it as a guidebook for an acid trip, and the Beatles quoted Leary’s version in their song “Tomorrow Never Knows.” More recently, the book has been adopted by the hospice movement, enshrined by Penguin Classics, and made into an audiobook read by Richard Gere. Yet, as acclaimed writer and scholar of Buddhism Donald Lopez writes, “The Tibetan Book of the Dead is not really Tibetan, it is not really a book, and it is not really about death.” In this compelling introduction and short history, Lopez tells the strange story of how a relatively obscure and malleable collection of Buddhist texts of uncertain origin came to be so revered–and so misunderstood–in the West. The central character in this story is Walter Evans-Wentz (1878-1965), an eccentric scholar and spiritual seeker from Trenton, New Jersey, who, despite not knowing the Tibetan language and never visiting the country, crafted and named The Tibetan Book of the Dead. In fact, Lopez argues, Evans-Wentz’s book is much more American than Tibetan, owing a greater debt to Theosophy and Madame Blavatsky than to the lamas of the Land of Snows. Indeed, Lopez suggests that the book’s perennial appeal stems not only from its origins in magical and mysterious Tibet, but also from the way Evans-Wentz translated the text into the language of a very American spirituality. Donald S. Lopez, Jr., is the Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan. His many books include The Story of Buddhism (HarperOne) and Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West. He has also edited a number of books by the Dalai Lama. Review: “A scholarly and informative short read, very useful as a reminder that religious books are not necessarily fixed entities.”–James F. DeRoche, Library Journal Endorsements: “On the history of Buddhism and its transmission to the West, Donald Lopez is the unsurpassable master. The story he tells here about a book that is ‘not really Tibetan’ and ‘not really about death’ glistens with delicious ironies and arresting historical parallels. Who else but Lopez would begin a history of The Tibetan Book of the Dead with the story of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith–and then, like a mystery writer, reveal the connections at the end? This is a sly and wildly entertaining book.”–Kenneth L. Woodward, contributing editor, Newsweek “The Tibetan Book of the Dead has a wonderful story, and in this fascinating and charming little book, Donald Lopez reveals himself to be a wonderful storyteller.”–Jack Miles, author of God: A Biography “This book offers a fascinating and fresh discussion of The Tibetan Book of the Dead and its life as a text in the United States. Donald Lopez argues that persistent threads in American religious life–the tradition of the ‘found’ text as a repository for ancient wisdom, and a philosophical interest in life after death–help explain the overwhelming success of the book and its endurance as a cultural artifact.”–Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Buddhist Manuscript Cultures Knowledge, Ritual, and Art Edited by Stephen C. Berkwitz, Juliane Schober, Claudia Brown Published January 19th 2011 by Routledge – 212 pages Series: Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism Paperback: 978-0-415-59613-8: $39.95 Hardback: 978-0-415-77616-5: $170.00 Buddhist Manuscript Cultures explores how religious and cultural practices in premodern Asia were shaped by literary and artistic traditions as well as by Buddhist material culture. This study of Buddhist texts focuses on the significance of their material forms rather than their doctrinal contents, and examines how and why they were made. Collectively, the book offers cross-cultural and comparative insights into the transmission of Buddhist knowledge and the use of texts and images as ritual objects in the artistic and aesthetic traditions of Buddhist cultures. Drawing on case studies from India, Gandhara, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Mongolia, China and Nepal, the chapters included investigate the range of interests and values associated with producing and using written texts, and the roles manuscripts and images play in the transmission of Buddhist texts and in fostering devotion among Buddhist communities. Contributions are by reputed scholars in Buddhist Studies and represent diverse disciplinary approaches from religious studies, art history, anthropology, and history. This book will be of interest to scholars and students working in these fields.
Book Review by Jonathan Ciliberto,3 April 2012 Portraits of Chōgen The Transformation of Buddhist Art in Early Medieval Japan John M. Rosenfield ISSN: 2210-2868 ISBN13: 9789004168640 2010 296 pp.; incl. 197 illustrations, mostly in color BRILL Created around 1206, the wooden statue of Chōgen on this book’s cover arrests the viewer with its realism. The rough remains of color enhance the character of agedness portrayed in the old monk, face deeply-lined and body thinned by years. Standing out from typically idealized portraits of religious figures, the image reaches out to the modern viewer. The titular portraits considered by the author are several: actual portraits of Chōgen, the re-vitalized realistic style of portraiture that developed in Japan from the 12th century, as well as sculptures of deities and the buildings to house them. This survey of images describes in depth Chōgen and the world in which he operated: a tumultuous era of war, famine, and natural disaster in Japanese history. Some books cause the reader to linger over them, putting off for as long as possible their completion. Most often this desire to stretch out a book is due to a strong narrative: an unfolding of events and growth of characters which the reader wishes, like a holiday, not to end. Portraits of Chōgen, although containing historical and biographical threads, is not treasured for its narrative, but rather for its effortless depth of detail into a long past time and place. The first volume in Brill’s “Japanese Visual Culture” series, the book is profusely illustrated and well-designed. Rosenberg is a distinguished scholar, and this volume is less about a strong argument, and more a detailed analysis of texts which describes the culture in which religious art was made. Chōgen (1121-1206), a monk, was asked to head up a massive restoration project: to rebuild and recreate the many temples and artworks destroyed in warfare in Nara, Japan in the late 12th century. Todaiji, the vast temple complex and the center of Japanese Buddhism “was largely reduced to ashes.” The main object of worship, the gigantic bronze Daibutsu lost its head and arms. Records show that over the following 25 years Chōgen worked to create more than 100 statues and 100 buildings. The repair of the Daibutsu, judged impossible by craftsmen initially, was the great achievement of this project. Chōgen’s recruitment is, according the author, “ironic” (34), since it pulled a monk into some deep secular waters. Chōgen was responsible for large building projects, fund-raising, and had regular dealings with government officials. On the other hand, through his life Chōgen was “inclined to the active, physical forms of devotion” (30). At the time, sects within and without Buddhism were not widely separated, and individuals could pick and choose freely. Chōgen took a particular interest in the native Shugendō, a syncretic religion/discipline in which practitioners often performed arduous mountain hikes as a means of cultivating spiritual growth. So, despite being a monk, Chōgen was not one to flee the physical world. The author admits that re-creating Chōgen for modern Western readers is difficult. In addition to the many radical differences between his world and ours, the absence of the most significant content for ready consideration, namely, the constant presence in Chōgen’s life of a religious world and system of meaning, creates a large gap. In a sense, this absence follows from Buddhism, which aims to leave no remains, to eradicate all karmic aspects. So, while marvelous buildings and artwork lingers from Chōgen’s days, it is up to the reader to duplicate the internal state that monks strove to cultivate. A chapter on “East Asian Portraiture” surveys the history of individual, rather than divine, portrait-making, finding origin points in Japanese portraits of nobility, Chinese sages, and of the Indian secular Buddhist figure Vimalakīrti. A detailed consideration of portraiture in Japanese Buddhist art rounds out the chapter. The creation of Buddhist sculptures, in wood and bronze, required a high level of technical expertise. Chōgen’s employed the leading image-makers of Kyoto and Nara. Many of the seminal works by the great artists and workshops of the day came to be as a result of his commissions. Rosenberg offers only a passing nod to the criticisms of some modern scholars, which “might dismiss Chōgen cognitive universe as idolatry and mumbo-jumbo” (13). For, this was a universe never doubted by its inhabitants, and thus the images created by them, if considered in the culture of creation, depend upon this world for meaning. That they are beautiful objects in an an aesthetic sense is secondary, and does take that position in Portraits of Chōgen. Apart from scattered editorial misses (“texts were poured over”, 41), the book is a perfect example of the scholarship of close history. Included is a full translation of Chōgen’s biography, as well as myriad references to the main sources of contemporary writers. The book’s photography and other graphic materials are clear, helpful, and well-chosen. Finally, the overall design is simple, elegant, and balanced.
Book Review by Jonathan Ciliberto, 26 December 2011 The Listening Book Discovering Your Own Music By W. A. Mathieu published by Shambhala Paperback List Price: $17.95 978-1-59030-831-8 Aspects of oneself innate or ever-present are often overlooked when considering self-improvement. For instance, while people regularly train themselves to speak better French or acquire a better golf game, it is less obvious that one would seek to improve one’s mind or being. And what about listening? Like seeing or smelling, one imagines listening to be fixed, not needing (or capable of) improvement, at least without physical or mechanical means. Buddhist meditation, of course, similarly begins with the premise that something seemingly fixed can take improvement. The Listening Book is a collection of anecdotes and exercises intended to improve listening, and thereby to find one’s own music. Originally published in 1991, it was re-issued this year, its text completely re-set, with new cover art. Although not explicitly about Buddhism, it partakes of many Buddhist approaches, including mindfulness, compassion, and ego-reduction. On the one hand, the author’s premise is simple: everyone has ears, and so everyone can hear music. On the other, it is subtle, investigating psychological aspects of listening, the metaphysics of music-making, and the primacy of attention to full experience as a listener and musician.[more]
FILM REVIEW: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives from The Journal of Religion and Film Vol. 15, No. 1, April 2011 Review by Jon Ciliberto  Religious aspects are present in both the mysterious and the commonplace in Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s 2010 Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, winner of the 2010 Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Amid a spare plot, the film’s characters occupy a boundary area between the natural and the supernatural, a region which reflects the main setting of the film: the mountainous jungles of Isan Province (the director’s birthplace and frequent setting for his films). Buddhism and native folk religion are interwoven in this part of Thailand, a result both of the deep connection between the landscape and people, and of the efforts of the people to integrate local gods and spirits, typically as protectors and guides in worldly matters. Buddhism, which offers a means of achieving liberation from the world of changes, found a way to accommodate pre-existing spiritual traditions by putting local gods and spirits in charge of the material world. This integration was especially pronounced in India, Southeast Asia, and Tibet.  Uncle Boonmee, who owns a farm, suffers from acute kidney failure. His relatives visit him, making the trip from urban and developed to rural Thailand. In a historical-cultural sense, this journey is a transition from the natural to the supernatural (or from the institutional to the personal). The religious culture of Isan incorporates elements from across the Mekong River – in Laos, Khmer culture dominated the region until the 13th century. As it sought to integrate all of Thailand in a single nation-state in the 19th century, the central authority in Bangkok adopted “countless measures [...] that discouraged, suppressed, or belittled indigenous languages, cultural forms, and other forms of local identity, particularly in Isan” (Buddhist Murals of Northeast Thailand, Brereton and Somroay, p. 1). [more]
Book Review by Jonathan Ciliberto, 24 June 2011 Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan By Katherine R. Tsiang with contributions by Richard A. Born, Jinhua Chen, Albert E. Dien, Lec Maj, Nancy Steinhardt, Daisy Yiyou Wang, J. Keith Wilson, and Wu Hung $45; Paper, 192 pages, 160 color plates, 3 charts, 3 tables, 1 map, 9 x 12″ ISBN: 9780935573503 2010 I had the pleasure of seeing this exhibition recently at the Sackler Museum in Washington, D.C. Last year, when I received the catalog at the show’s opening in Chicago, I eagerly read through it. Essays on the history of the site, the context for Buddhist art in China during the Northern Qi, the role of Imperial sponsorship in Buddhist cave sites (an innovation, imported from India and Central Asia and likely related to meditation techniques prevalent at the time), and the 20th century denuding of the Xiangtangshan caves for the sake of the international art market, together construct a detailed context for the exhibition’s contents. I consider this the finest catalog for an exhibition of Buddhist art to appear in many years. The volume and the program it supports are perfectly matched: both strive and succeed at placing the viewer in front of the works, and build a full context, not only for this Buddhist art as it existed at its creation, but also as it has come to live in the present. Echoes of the Past: The Buddhist Cave Temples of Xiangtangshan is a ground-breaking exhibition which combines scholarship, collaboration between institutions, and art historical, archaeological and technological approaches. Visitors not only view sculptures from the Northern Qi (550-77 AD), but also — by means of high-tech three-dimensional digital scanning and a large three-screen “digital cave” — walk into an environment which simulates the caves themselves.
Book review: Shots in the Dark by Shoji Yamada by Jonathan Ciliberto for Buddhist Art News Shots in the Dark: Japan, Zen and the West by Shoji Yamada University of Chicago Press, 2009. viii + 304 pages, 8 halftones, 6 line drawings, kanji (Japanese characters) for names and terms, bibliography, index. Reading Zen in the Rocks: the Japanese Dry Landscape Garden by Francois Bertier, translation and philosophical essay by Graham Parkes University of Chicago Press, 2000; 179 pages | 37 halftones | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2
• • • • •
Like many Americans, my first substantial encounter with Buddhism was through D.T. Suzuki. As a high school student in the early 1980′s I read his Introduction to Zen Buddhism and found it approachable: the forward by C.G. Jung provides intellectual authority and familiarity, and its style of writing is well-suited to Western readers, particularly the philosophically-inclined. At the time, I had very little context for Buddhism in Japan. I read and accepted that Zen was deeply embedded in Japanese culture, and later, reading Suzuki’s book on that subject, this belief solidified. I accepted that quintessentially Japanese cultural elements like the tea ceremony and rock gardens were informed, and largely formed, by Zen Buddhism. However, some aspects of a thorough linking of Zen and Japanese culture struck me as odd even then — what about Shinto? With a bit more reading, I also wondered, what about all the other Buddhist sects in Japan? So, it was not with complete surprise that I began to discern the highly partisan flavor of Suzuki’s ideas, particularly on reading Sharf (1993). In a sense, Suzuki was read by the West with Japanese culture as a marketing tool, exotic and charming cultural calling cards like the tea ceremony to help “sell” Zen to the Western, and quite successfully. A return response from Japan is described in Shots in the Dark: Japan, Zen and the West. Shoji Yamada offers two instances of Japan choosing a complimentary reflection of itself offered by the West, each of which describes Japanese culture as an instance of Zen Buddhism. Yamada uses the metaphor of a fun-house mirror which displays one’s good qualities (e.g., a distorted mirror which makes one appear thin), and describes the historical process of the Japanese choosing the mirror of themselves offered by the West which reflects admirable qualities: namely the austere philosophical aspects of Zen as promulgated by D.T. Suzuki. Two cultural instances are presented in this book: Japanese archery and the famous rock garden at Ryōanji. For each, interpretations built in the West are seen to recycle back to Japan in the 20th century, placing upon these two a “Zen” quality which the author contends was either wholly or largely absent prior to Western consideration. [more]
Enter the Void: Film review by Jonathan Ciliberto for Buddhist Art News, March 2011 Director Gaspar Noé’s 2010 release, Enter the Void, portrays the bardo — the intermediary state between death and re-birth which is described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Thodol). This portrayal follows the death of the film’s protagonist, Oscar, a Canadian living in Japan. No capsule review can effectively present the contents of the film, which is less about telling a story, and more about describing mental states. The film proceeds through three successive viewpoints: Oscar’s, shown on screen from his eyes, complete with eyeblinks; Oscar’s life prior to that (shown from the same in-head view and from a vantage point just behind his head), and finally a fully disembodied view, as Oscar’s spirit drifts between past, present, and future. Oscar dies early in the film, shot in the back by Tokyo police in a bathroom stall while trying to flush his drug stash. Prior to this a friend (Alex) has loaned him a copy of The Tibetan Book of the Dead. In a movie without much compassion, Alex (and Oscar’s sister, Linda) strive to guide him away from bad choices, and one cannot help but hear Alex’s urging to read the Bardo Thodol as echoing the urgent pleas of Shakyamuni, that time is short and there is no time but the present to begin preparing for death. [more]
BOOK REVIEW December 2010, by Jonathan Ciliberto Yasodharā, the Wife of the Bodhisattva: The Sinhala Yasodharāvata (The Story of Yasodharā) and the Sinhala Yasodharapadanaya (The Sacred Biography of Yasodhara) Translated with an introduction and notes by Ranjini Obeyesekere SUNY Press, 2009 The eventual Buddha, Shakyamuni, listing the many obstacles to his renunciation of the world, named the most difficult: leaving his beautiful wife Yasodharā and his two-day old son Rahula. So hard is this trial that he chooses only to look upon them sleeping, fearing that their remonstrances and sadness at his planned departure for the forest and asceticism would be too much for his resolve. This emotional expression of the power of the most basic human ties is at the core of the Sinhala poem, “Yasodharāvata” (The Story of Yasodharā), which in many ways is a parallel biography to the life of the Buddha himself. The life story of the Buddha — the historical Shakyamuni — includes a great deal more than his birth, pursuit and achievement of nirvana, teaching, and death. Buddhist biographies take into account the long series of previous lives that for each human stands behind the present one, or, in the case of the Buddha, the final one. Only through many, many lives focused on compassion and wisdom was the prince of the Shakya’s able to achieve final liberation. The “Yasodharāvata”, a folk poem from Sri Lanka, presents the long life-story of Yasodharā as intertwined with the Buddha’s, not only in his final re-birth as his wife, but throughout innumerable past lives. Upon learning of his departure, Yasodharā is filled with sadness, and also bitterly criticizes the Bodhisattva for leaving her:
“We were first born in the animal world as deer, Since that life we two have never been apart. In every samsaric birth I have always been your consort. Why then did you leave today without a word?” (74)
In addition to giving an endorsement of both monogamy and a women’s subservient place to her husband, the description of the two joined together through near-eternity casts Yasodharā’s life in romantic terms, as the constant companion and support of the Bodhisattva. Beyond monogamous romance, the chain of connection between the two underscores the ultimate interconnectedness between all beings and the shared project of achieving release from suffering. In more human terms, the reader is confronted with both the enormous decision made by the young prince, and by the manner in which such a choice affects those left behind. For a devoted companion through many lives, who marched arm-in-arm with the Bodhisattva on the long path to liberation (“Once we went as ascetics together to the forest”, “Once in a former life we were born as squirrels”), the tragic feelings brought on by her realization that he has crept out in the night, abandoning her, are given thorough dramatic space in the poem.[more]
University of Hawaii Press, 2007 Book Review by Jonathan Ciliberto for Buddhist Art News Visual art is deeply tied to Buddhist practice, and certain sites and structures possess special significance to this practice. In Faith and Power in Japanese Buddhist Art: 1600-2005 Patricia J. Graham tracks “the thread of change over time to the practice of Buddhism” through a thorough examination of works of Japanese Buddhist art and architecture from the 17th into the 21st century. This superb survey includes non-traditional works — that is, those not connected with institutional Buddhism in Japan — including those intended for museums. It also aims to overturn the fallacy of the ‘declining’ Buddhist arts of Japan in recent centuries. Thus, the book has three goals: 1) to reconsider the canon of Japanese art in order to make room for Buddhist art and architecture from the 19th century to the present; 2) “to define the social history of recent Japanese Buddhist art and architecture” (p 3); 3) to illustrate the place of Buddhism as an influence or inspiration on art and artists outside of institutional Buddhism. It is the first book to study the 400-year span from the beginning of the Edo period to the present and to link this period to the established canon of Japanese Buddhist art (p 9-10). [more]
Shambhala, 2008 Book Review by Jonathan Ciliberto for Buddhist Art News Only three volumes exist in print in English which cover Buddhist art as a whole, both historically and iconographically. I presume that this scarcity is due to the breadth of the subject, to the still shifting opinions on broad trends, and to the inclusion of Buddhist art within wider surveys on Asian art. Until recently, the UK press Thames & Hudson’s Buddhist Art (by Robert E. Fisher) was the sole volume to which individuals could turn. In 2009, River Books released Buddhist Art by Giles Beguin. One year prior to this appeared The Art of Buddhism: an Introduction to its History and Meaning, by Denise Patry Leidy, which is specifically for “general readers and undergraduate students” (p. 5). Shambhala is the most prominent American press dedicated to Eastern spirituality. For many readers unfamiliar with Buddhism, it is a primary or initial source of information on Buddhism. While many of its releases are popular in nature, a significant portion of their output comes in the form of translations and scholarly works. The author is a curator in the Department of Asian Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York). Befitting a general introduction to the subject, the author’s approach is not to delve too deeply into any particular aspect of Buddhist art, providing instead an overview of its history, from earliest beginnings in India to its dissemination and growth in South, Central, and East Asia through the Nineteenth century. For example, rather than wading into the once-contentious question of the origin of the Buddha image, she describes a general appearance of anthropomorphism across a wide area, and leaves it at that. Two particular themes run throughout the volume: the connection between art and Buddhist practice, and the geographical movement of artistic styles and techniques. Most of the examples of works are related to one or both of these ideas. The author touches on these two themes steadfastly; instances are found on nearly each of the volumes 342 pages. This approach makes for a cogent and focused (if sometimes misleading) introduction to the subject. [more]
pdf link Contemporary Tibetan Art: From the Collection of Shelley & Donald Rubin at Oglethorpe University Museum of Art. Jan. 10, 2009 – Feb. 22, 2009 at Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (Atlanta, Georgia) Review by Jonathan Ciliberto for Buddhist art news Despite Tibet’s remote and inaccessible location, Tibetan art has historically developed under a strong amount of foreign influence. Buddhism, itself an import to Tibet, has incorporated influences in visual styles, artistic techniques, and traditions from neighboring areas from the religion’s introduction in the 7th century. These influences have come from many neighboring cultures: present-day India, Pakistan, Nepal, Central Asia, and China. The Chinese takeover of Tibet in 1959 has had wide repercussions for Tibetan artists, and these continue to reverberate to the present day. Many contemporary Tibetan artists have grown up and trained entirely outside of Tibet proper, while others have remained in the region and received education in the Tibetan Autonomous Region or other parts of China. Prominent collectors of Tibetan religious art (and founders of the Rubin Museum of Art), Shelley and Donald Rubin (Oglethorpe Alumnus, 1956) have also collected contemporary Tibetan art, which is the basis for an exhibition at Atlanta’s Oglethorpe University Museum of Art Skylight Gallery. Amongst the artists included are many of the most prominent names in contemporary Tibetan art: Drugu Choegyal Rinpoche, Gade, Tsering Dorjee, Gonkar Gyatso, Losang Gyatso, Norbu, Pema Donyo Nyingje (the 12th Tai Situ Rinpoche), Mukti Singh Thapa. [more]
, by John Johnston for Buddhist Art News
pdf link Early Himalayan Art By Amy Heller Ashmolean Museum Cambridge University Press 2008 Dr. Amy Heller, author of the recently released Early Himalayan Art, is an outstanding scholar and an established and recognized leader in the field of Himalayan art studies. As such it is very fitting that she was chosen as the author for the catalogue presenting early works of Himalayan art at the Ashmolean Museum. The catalogue presents 61 pieces from the Ashmolean collection. Early objects are defined as 7th to 14th century. As some of these images have never before appeared in print, collectors and specialists on this subject will want to include this book in their libraries. The general public and specialists alike will enjoy the fine introductory essay by Dr. Heller. Her succinct summary of how styles originated in India and were transported and evolved in the Himalayas is insightful. The stylistic chronology and geographic distribution of these styles are illustrated with many examples from Nepal and Tibet. Practitioners and those interested in how these images are (or were) used in Buddhist religious activities are not given many clues or interesting tidbits in the essay or entries, the focus being more on the development of aesthetic features and styles over time. [more]
November 2008 A Shower of Jewels: Deities of Wealth at Oglethorpe University November 2008 Review and photographs by Jonathan Ciliberto i. Review, ii. Catalogue, iii. Bibliography; iv. Notes i. Despite the increased interest in Tibetan Buddhism since the general dispersion of Tibetan culture following the Chinese takeover of the country in 1950, exhibitions which explore the ritual nature of Buddhist art in the Himalayas are scarcely found in the West. This is largely owing to the esoteric tradition which surrounds (and creates) such artworks. One of the largest collections of Tibetan Buddhist art outside of the native region is held by the Rubin Museum of Art (RMA) in New York, and thus one expects a great opportunity for Atlantans to learn more about this art-culture through the six exhibitions arranged between the RMA and Atlanta’s Oglethorpe University Museum of Art. A Shower of Jewels: Deities of Wealth, the second exhibition in this series, runs through 7 December 2008. An important set of practices of Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism involves the actualization of a particular deity as a means of removing obstacles to spiritual growth. Chief techniques include meditation and visualization. “Tibetan practices seek to evoke a particular deity as a transcendent aid to help clear away the obstacles to ultimate understanding.”  Although seemingly antithetical to Buddhism’s emphasis on non-materialism, a lack of money (or the things it can buy) is just such an obstacle.  A number of deities are propitiated particularly for the acquisition (or protection) of wealth. Stories from sacred literature describe the result of proper veneration of these “Wealth Deities” (Tibetan: nor lha), in which both monks and laity receive showers of gems, pearls, and other bounty from the proper veneration of deities. However, it must be borne in mind that the acquisition of such wealth depends strictly upon the motivation of the practioner. “If the motivation is pure, such as seeking wealth to relieve the suffering of others, this fits well with compassionate principles of the dharma and hence is more likely to succeed.” 
Deities of wealth are perhaps best understood in the same terms Rob Linrothe uses to describe wrathful deities: as removers of obstacles. “As embodiments, or personifications, of the destruction of obstacles, the appearances of wrathful deities give us confidence in their abilities to master that which is malignant in human life: illness, misfortune, ingrained destructive pattens of behaviour, the capacity to lust, hate, and envy, and the ability to act out of selfishness and ignorance, faculties with which we are all endowed.”  Wealth deities in this sense represent a form of upaya (skillful means) for Buddhist practice. The rituals associated with gods of wealth may also be thought of as a form of skillful means for eliminating, or at least reducing, attachment to material concerns. By projecting these matters onto a potent deity, the individual turns these concerns over to a higher agency. So, mental activity related to material things, by its nature contingent, is removed from the mind of the practitioner and becomes an objectified obstacle which may be overcome through the intercession of a particular deity.  In an apocryphal but instructive story, the layman Sucandra asks the Buddha to for “a method whereby he could amass stores of grain, gold, silver, and gems in order to support his family and servants and engage in philanthropy. Shakyamuni disclosed that he had leaned a mantra for precisely this purpose.”  [more]
Oglethorpe Museum of Art Review by Jonathan Ciliberto for Buddhist Art News Atlanta, Georgia’s short list of Asian art resources has grown a bit longer over the past decade, with the opening of a small gallery of Asian art in Emory’s Michael C. Carlos museum and with that university’s affiliations with Tibet and H.H. the Dalai Lama, as well as the nearby Drepung Loseling Buddhist monastery. These associations are paralleled by the dramatic growth of the Asian population in the region over the past two decades, with Georgia experiencing the “2nd fastest-growing Asian American population growth in the United States” from 1990-2000. Metro Atlanta is now home to more than 200,000 Asian Americans.  The most recent alliance of Asian art and Atlanta is between the Rubin Museum of Art (RMA) in New York and the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, a three-year partnership which will bring six exhibitions to the north Atlanta university. The Rubin collection of Himalayan art, one of the world’s finest, was assembled by Donald Rubin, an Oglethorpe graduate.  The initial exhibition, “Avalokiteshvara: Lord of Compassion”, on display to 11 May 2008, presents in the museum’s small gallery 12 works of Tibetan art — 10 paintings and 2 sculptures which depict the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, a deity whose traditional connection to Tibet reaches back to the country’s formation. Buddhism was introduced to Tibet in the 7th century A.D. At the time, major trade routes ran through the Tibetan plateau: south-to-north with India, Nepal, and Central Asia, and west-to-east linking the area with present-day Iran, Pakistan, and Northwest India, and with China and Southeast Asia. Buddhism arrived in Tibet from both Nepal/India and China, although scholars account the greater influence coming from the south. Tibetan Buddhist history ascribes 7th century Tibetan king Song-tsen-gam-po’s construction of Lhasa’s two earliest Buddhist sites as responding to the needs of his wives: one Chinese, the other Nepali, both tribute brides sent to him, and thus indicative of the regional power of Tibet. “In later Buddhist tradition he was accounted as the first of three great religious, i.e., Buddhist, kings,” and indeed Song-tsen-gam-po and the Dalai Lamas are both regarded by Tibetan Buddhists as reincarnations of Avalokiteshvara. [more]
Zen (2008, 127 minutes)
Buddhist art includes not only images of Buddhas, but also paintings and sculptures of historical figures: monks, nuns, teachers, poets, artists, and others. Tibetan thangkas which depict great teachers include, in addition to a large central figure: protective deities, lineage holders, and episodes from the primary subject’s life arrayed around the painting in such a way that the viewer might learn through narrative elements the history of the individual portrayed and thus Buddhist practice. In short: Buddhist art serves to explicate Buddhist practice. “Dōgen stringently warned against the building of magnificent temples or the making of Buddha images for their own sake.” (Zen Master Dōgen, Yoho Yokoi, p. 33) In modern media, films devoted to the life of the Buddhist masters in the same way offer an expression of Buddhist teaching through the narrative of an individual’s life. The recently released Japanese film on the life of the 13th century founder of Soto Zen on Japan, Dōgen Zenji (道元禅師, 19 January 1200 – 22 September 1253) , hews to this model, while also pursuing the aesthetics of film. Scene after scene portrays with superb symmetry his life and the understanding of Buddhism that he presented. At the same time, the film is wonderfully filmed, acted, and edited, such that viewers wholly unaware of Buddhist practice will find delight in its viewing. Zen was directed by Banmei Takahashi and stars Kantaro Nakamura, the 19th generation Kabuki actor and son of Kabuki legend, Nakamura Kanzaburo, who delivers a masterful performance, capturing the quality of Dōgen’s character: from his early struggle to understand Buddhism, to his firm commitment to see Zen spread to his native country. Rather than portraying so monumental a figure as distant or superhuman, Nakamura conveys an everyday person, one engaged in this life fully. And, this is the Buddhism Dōgen professed: that enlightenment is not a goal, but rather a practice. [more]
International Association of Buddhist Studies XVth Congress; Emory University (Atlanta, GA) July 2008 Notes by Jonathan Ciliberto Thanks to the kindness of Sara McClintock (Emory University), I attended several panels related to Buddhist art. The complete academic program for the event is here. Following are my brief notes which represent my reception of the papers presented; obviously, I am responsible for inaccuracies. General Comments The congress was held from Tuesday, 23 June to Saturday, 28 June, with 9 sessions, each having 7 panels. Each panel consisted of 5-6 papers. The dozens of interesting papers presented ranged across the wide scope encompassed by Buddhist studies.
Buddhist art panel (25 June 2008) Moderator: Cristina Scherrer-Schmidt Daniel Veidlinger (California State University (Chico)) “ Sarvastivada Buddhism and the Advent of the Buddha Image” Professor Veidlinger suggests Buddhist philosophy as a guide to the development of Buddhist art. His thesis is that the emergence of the figural in Buddhist art comes from a philosophical position of the Sarvastivada school as regards temporality. The Sarvastivada was a school in the Hinayana prominent just before and in the early centuries of the present era. Veidlinger first places early Buddhist figural work in the Hinayana tradition by pointing out that the sole figures represented initially were Shakyamuni and Maitreya — also the only deities recognized by the Hinayanists. Further, the Sarvastivada school is indicated in early inscriptional evidence, thus linking it with early image-making. (The Bimaran casket from the time of Azes II (50-10 BCE), e.g., also in related coinage.) [more]
The Marshall Albums: Photography and Archaeology Sudeshna Guha # Hardcover: 288 pages # Publisher: Mapin Publishing Gp Pty Ltd (March 16, 2011) # Language: English # ISBN-10: 1890206458 # ISBN-13: 978-1890206451 # Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 9.7 x 1.2 inches This volume is a study exploring multiple perceptions of Indian history and related scholarship produced through archaeological fieldwork during the colonial period.
2010 Tibetan Art and Architecture Verfasst von pw am Fr, 06/10/2011 – 11:10. Lo Bue, Erberto [u.a.] [Hrsg.]: Tibetan Art and Architecture in Context : PIATS 2006, Proceedings of the Eleventh Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Königswinter 2006 / Erberto Lo Bue and Christian Luczanits (Editors). – Andiast : International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, 2011. – XIII, 406 S. : Ill., graph. Darst. – (Beiträge zur Zentralasienforschung ; 20) ISBN 978-3-88280-089-0 EUR 72,50 DDC: 709.515 Inhalt Foreword / Erberto Lo Bue & Christian Luczanits. vii 1. Reinhard Herdick: The Historical Architecture of the Trandruk Temple in the Yar lung Valley of Tibet. 1 2. Eva Allinger: Considerations on the Development of the Representation of the Buddha’s Life in Early Tibetan Thangkas. 27 3. Amy Heller: Preliminary Remarks on the Donor Inscriptions and Iconography of an 11th-century Mchod rten at Tholing. 43 4. Christiane Papa-Kalantari: Courtly Cavaliers, Mounted Heroes and Pehar: New Issues in the Iconography and Iconology of Protector Deities in Early Western Himalayan Art. 75 5. Helmut F. Neumann & Heidi A. Neumann: An Early Wall Painting of a Bhaiṣajyaguru Maṇḍala in Western Tibet. 121 6. Kurt Tropper: Inscriptions and Captions in the Gu ru Lha khang at Nako, Kinnaur. 143 7. Melissa R. Kerin: Visual Evidence for ‘Bri gung Activity at Nako, Kinnaur. 175 8. Olaf Czaja: The Commemorative Stupas at Densathil a Preliminary Study. 197 9. Christian Luczanits: Mandalas of Mandalas: The Iconography of a Stupa of Many Auspicious Doors for Phag mo gru pa. 281 10. Ursula Toyka-Fuong: Three Tibeto-Chinese Mandala Paintings of Around 1442. 311 11. Federica Venturi: Reconstructing Sakya: Written Sources, Photographic Archives and Fieldwork. 335 12. Erberto Lo Bue: The Śambhala Murals in the Klu khang and Their Historical Context. A Preliminary Report. 353 13. Jakob Winkler: The Dbu yab pho brang in the Nor bu gling ga and Its Connection with the Murals of the Klu khang Behind the Potala. 375 14. Ingrid Kreide-Damani: An Unusual Highlight in Trade in Tibetan Art: A 20th-century Thangka of Shangs pad, Protector of the Dge ldan byams pa gling Monastery at Chamdo in the Province of Dagyab in Kham, Eastern Tibet. 393
Early Buddhist Art of China and Central Asia, Volume 3 The Western Ch’in in Kansu in the Sixteen Kingdoms Period and Inter-relationships with the Buddhist Art of Gandhāra by Marylin Martin-Rhie Series: Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section 4 China ISSN: 0169-9520 ISBN13: 9789004184008 Publication Year: 2010 Edition info: 1 Version: Hardback Publication Type: Book Pages, Illustrations: lviii, 962 pp. (460 pp of illustrations) Imprint: BRILL Language: English This book, third in a series on the early Buddhist art of China and Central Asia, centers on Buddhist art from the Western Ch’in (385-431 A.D.) in eastern Kansu (northwest China), primarily from the cave temples of Ping-ling ssu and Mai-chi shan. A detailed chronological and iconographic study of sculptures and wall paintings in Cave 169 at Ping-ling ssu particularly yields a chronological framework for unlocking the difficult issues of dating early fifth century Chinese Buddhist art, and offers some new insights into textual sources in the Lotus, Hua-yen and Amitabha sutras. Further, … read morethis study introduces the iconographpy of the five Buddhas and its relation to the art of Gandhara and the famous five colossal T’an-yao caves at Yün-kang
The Buddhist Caves at Aurangabad: Transformations in Art and Religion (Brill’s Indological Library) Pia Brancaccio # Hardcover: 332 pages # Publisher: BRILL (December 17, 2010) # Language: English # ISBN-10: 9004185259 # ISBN-13: 978-9004185258 # Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches This is a study that focuses on the art and architecture of a group of Buddhist rock-cut monuments excavated on the western edge of the Deccan Plateau in India. It analyses the various cultural, historical and religious phenomena that shaped the caves at Aurangabad through the first seven centuries of the Common Era and it comments on the Buddhist tradition of the western Deccan as a whole. The result is a comprehensive work that does not address exclusively iconography and chronology, but looks beyond Aurangabad to the larger artistic and religious traditions of the Indian Subcontinent.
The Sound of One Hand: Paintings and Calligraphy by Zen Master Hakuin By Audrey Yoshiko Seo and Stephen Addiss Hardcover: 288 pages Publisher: Shambhala (September 7, 2010) Language: English ISBN-10: 1590305787 ISBN-13: 978-1590305782 Product Dimensions: 11.7 x 8.3 x 1.2 inches Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds List Price: $65.00
Wonders of Lo : the artistic heritage of Mustang ed. by Erberto Lo Bue. – Mumbai : Marg Publications, 2010. – 164 S. : zahlr. Ill. (= Mārg, vol. 62, no. 2 (December 2010). ISSN 0025-2913) ISBN 978-93-80581-02-6
Ritual and Representation in Buddhist Art Jeong-hee Lee-Kalisch, Antje Papist-Matsuo (Hg.) ISBN: 9783897396418 Ladenpreis This publication investigates the ritual and cultural contexts in which art and representations of Buddhist thought were used in East and Central Asia. The book contains nine essays by specialists in the field. The contributions range from the Buddhist cult of relics in ancient China and material evidences for Buddhist rituals of confession and repentance in North Chinese cave temples of the 6th and early 7th centuries to aspects of cultural exchange, regional innovation, and traditions of imperial workmanship as means of dynastic power. The development of popular iconographies based on Avatamsaka doctrine in Tang China and the Korean kingdom of Unified Silla is discussed as well as representations of Amitabha’s Pure Land on the Northern Silk Road produced under Uygur patronage. Some aspects in Sino-Tibetan sculptures and thangkas of the early 15th century appear to testify to the imitation of approved artistic models as mean to strengthen Chinese influence over Tibet. By looking at Tibetan medical thangkas mainly of the 19th century, one essay elaborates basic principles of Tibetan medicine which has been influenced throughout the centuries principally by Indian and Chinese ideas. The book also scopes developments of visual traditions in Japanese Buddhist art and their use in ritual contexts, namely Japanese sculptures of the Kamakura period, iconographically unorthodox depictions of Amitabha Buddha, and religious connotations of lacquered implements in Negoro style. Originally based on a university lecture series organized by the editors in 2005 at the Department of East Asian Art History, Institute of Art History at Freie Universität Berlin, this work is of value to both specialists and students of Asian art and religion.
Buddhism: The Icon of Cultural Linkage with China Prem Kumari Pant and Prof. Shanker Thapa (Ed.) Kathmandu: Nepal China Society, 2010; 446pp., Rs.1050/- NC (Hard), Rs.750/- NC (S0ft).
Ham, Peter van: Heavenly Himalayas : the Murals of Mangyu and Other Discoveries in Ladakh / Peter van Ham. With contributions by Rob Linrothe, Gerald Kosicz and Amy Heller. Foreword by His Eminence, Raja Jigmed Wangchuk Namgyal, King of Ladakh. – Munich ; Berlin ; London ; New York : Prestel, 2010. – 176 S. : Ill., Kt. ISBN 978-3-7913-4543-7 EUR 59,00 DDC: 726.14309546
Dagens, Bruno [u.a.]: Archaeologists in Angkor : photographic archives of the École française d’Extrême-Orient (French school of Asian studies) : [exhibition], Musée Cernuschi-Musée des arts de l’Asie de la Ville de Paris, September 9th 2010-January 3rd 2011 / [Musée Cernuschi (Paris)]. – Paris : École française d’Extrême-Orient ; [Suilly-la-Tour] : Éd. Findakly, 2010. – 239 S. : zahlr. Ill. ISBN 978-2-85539-121-2 EUR 45,00 DDC: 959.602; 726.1450959607444361
Surviving Nirvana: Death of the Buddha in Chinese Visual Culture Sonya S. Lee Product Details * Hardcover: 400 pages * Publisher: University of Washington Press (March 15, 2010) * Language: English * ISBN-10: 9622091253 * ISBN-13: 978-9622091252 * Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.1 x 1.1 inches Product Description The Buddha’s nirvana marks the end of the life of a great spiritual figure and the beginning of Buddhism as a world religion. Surviving Nirvana is the first book in the English language to examine how this historic moment was represented and received in the visual culture of China, of which the nirvana image has been a part for over 1,500 years. –Mining a selection of well-documented and well-preserved examples from the sixth to twelfth centuries, Sonya Lee offers a reassessment of medieval Chinese Buddhism by focusing on practices of devotion and image-making that were inspired by the Buddha’s “complete extinction.” The nirvana image, comprised of a reclining Buddha and a mourning audience, was central to defining the local meanings of the nirvana moment in different times and places. The motif’s many guises, whether on a stone-carved stele, inside a pagoda crypt, or as a painted mural in a cave temple, were the product of social interactions, religious institutions, and artistic practices prevalent in a given historical context. They were also cogent responses to the fundamental anxiety about the absence of the Buddha and the prospect of one’s salvation. By reinventing the nirvana image to address its own needs, each community of patrons, makers, and viewers sought to recast the Buddha’s “death” into an allegory of survival that was charged with local pride and contemporary relevance.- -Thoroughly researched, this study engages methods and debates from the fields of art history, religion, archaeology, architecture, and East Asian history that are relevant to scholars and students alike. The many examples analyzed in the book offer well-defined local contexts to discuss broader historical and theoretical issues concerning representation, patronage, religion and politics, family values, and vision.–Sonya S. Lee is assistant professor of art history and East Asian languages and cultures at University of Southern California.
Buddhism: The Icon of Cultural Linkage with China Prem Kumari Pant and Prof. Shanker Thapa (Ed.) Kathmandu: Nepal China Society, 2010; 446pp., Rs.1050/- NC (Hard), Rs.750/- NC (S0ft).
The Story of Korean Art Yoo Hong-jun Nulwa: 412 pp., 28,000 won
December 2010, by Jonathan Ciliberto Yasodharā, the Wife of the Bodhisattva: The Sinhala Yasodharāvata (The Story of Yasodharā) and the Sinhala Yasodharapadanaya (The Sacred Biography of Yasodhara) Translated with an introduction and notes by Ranjini Obeyesekere SUNY Press, 2009 The eventual Buddha, Shakyamuni, listing the many obstacles to his renunciation of the world, named the most difficult: leaving his beautiful wife Yasodharā and his two-day old son Rahula. So hard is this trial that he chooses only to look upon them sleeping, fearing that their remonstrances and sadness at his planned departure for the forest and asceticism would be too much for his resolve. This emotional expression of the power of the most basic human ties is at the core of the Sinhala poem, “Yasodharāvata” (The Story of Yasodharā), which in many ways is a parallel biography to the life of the Buddha himself. The life story of the Buddha — the historical Shakyamuni — includes a great deal more than his birth, pursuit and achievement of nirvana, teaching, and death. Buddhist biographies take into account the long series of previous lives that for each human stands behind the present one, or, in the case of the Buddha, the final one. Only through many, many lives focused on compassion and wisdom was the prince of the Shakya’s able to achieve final liberation Continue reading →
Power of Place: The Religious Landscape of the Southern Sacred Peak (Harvard East Asian Monographs) [Hardcover] James Robson Product Description Throughout Chinese history mountains have been integral components of the religious landscape. They have been considered divine or numinous sites, the abodes of deities, the preferred locations for temples and monasteries, and destinations for pilgrims. Early in Chinese history a set of five mountains were co-opted into the imperial cult and declared sacred peaks, yue, demarcating and protecting the boundaries of the Chinese imperium. The Southern Sacred Peak, or Nanyue, is of interest to scholars not the least because the title has been awarded to several different mountains over the years. The dynamic nature of Nanyue raises a significant theoretical issue of the mobility of sacred space and the nature of the struggles involved in such moves. Another facet of Nanyue is the multiple meanings assigned to this place: political, religious, and cultural. Of particular interest is the negotiation of this space by Daoists and Buddhists. The history of their interaction leads to questions about the nature of the divisions between these two religious traditions. James Robson’s analysis of these topics demonstrates the value of local studies and the emerging field of Buddho-Daoist studies in research on Chinese religion. Product Details * Hardcover: 450 pages * Publisher: Harvard University Asia Center; 1 edition (October 30, 2009) * Language: English * ISBN-10: 9780674033320 * ISBN-13: 978-0674033320 * ASIN: 0674033329 * Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.1 x 1.6 inches
Buddhist monasteries towards urbanism in southern Sri Lanka Prishanta Gunawardhana. Imprint: Battaramulla : Neptune Publications, Physical Desc.: xvii, 240,  p. : ill., maps (chiefly col.) ; 32 cm. Year: 2009 ISBN: 9789550028009 Summary: With special reference to Ruhuṇa, Sri Lanka. ================================================= For their sheer size and number, architectural remains of Buddhist monasteries figure among the foremost areas of archaeological research in Sri Lanka. Their historical and archaeological importance apart, these structural remains are equally important for considering the cultural history of the island. The relationship between rulers, laymen and the Buddhist monks along with the environment, says the author, were the key factors in developing the ideologies for the monastic organizations from their very inception. With a theoretical analysis of the Buddhist monasteries towards urbanism in southern Sri Lanka: from the Protohistoric period to the Polonnarwa period, this study tries to show how Magama was not just a major city of Buddhist monasteries, but also the chief urban centre of political rulers of the Sri Lanka. The pre-polity and primary urban form surfaced in Magama from the 9th century BC onwards – with the possible emergence of village-based settlements, agriculture and megalithic burial sites. It is worth noting that a considerable urban form, political structure, agricultural development and the commercial guild, long-distance foreign trade in the KO system might have emerged during the Protohistoric and Early Historic periods. The situation from the pre-polity and pre-urban form changed due to climactic development of the international trade from 3rd century BC to the 4th century AD. This resulted in the emergence of mature urban form, along with monasteries. The book is largely an attempt to reconstruct the social reality of the Buddhist monasteries during the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa periods in Magama — the southern kingdom of ancient Sri Lanka. Even if the study is mainly confined to the monastic architecture, it also proposes to investigate the specific spatial manipulation of Buddhist monasteries within the context of trade in the urban form. Concludingly, the author assumes that Magama – having been linked to good political rulers, Buddhist monasteries and trade — might have become a magnificent urban city during the period. Dr Prishanta Gunawardhana is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka.
2008 REVIEW The Art of Buddhism: an Introduction to its History and Meaning by Denise Patry Leidy Shambhala, 2008 Only three volumes exist in print in English which cover Buddhist art as a whole, both historically and iconographically. I presume that this scarcity is due to the breadth of the subject, to the still shifting opinions on broad trends, and to the inclusion of Buddhist art within wider surveys on Asian art. Until recently, the UK press Thames & Hudson’s Buddhist Art (by Robert E. Fisher) was the sole volume to which individuals could turn. In 2009, River Books released Buddhist Art by Giles Beguin. One year prior to this appeared The Art of Buddhism: an Introduction to its History and Meaning, by Denise Patry Leidy, which is specifically for “general readers and undergraduate students” (p. 5). Shambhala is the most prominent American press dedicated to Eastern spirituality. For many readers unfamiliar with Buddhism, it is a primary or initial source of information on Buddhism. While many of its releases are popular in nature, a significant portion of their output comes in the form of translations and scholarly works. Continue Reading…
Buddhist Iconography and Ritual in Paintings and Line Drawings from Nepal, by Gudrun Buhnemann November 2008 Lumbini International Research Institute, Nepal ABOUT THE BOOK This book is divided into three sections. The first section introduces one specific tradition of Siddhas transmitted by artists from Nepal. This artistic legacy, which is related to a corpus of texts that go back through Srīsena and Buston, includes two paintings and an incomplete set of line drawings. One of the paintings is an early-sixteenth-century paubhā of Vajradhara surrounded by the eighty-four Siddhas (now preserved in the National Art Gallery, Bhaktapur). The set of line drawings of originally all eighty-four Siddhas (now in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) goes back to the seventeenth century. On the basis of a comparison of the portraits of the eighty-four Siddhas in the painting from Bhaktapur (which provides the Siddhas’ names) and the line drawings (which also label the Siddhas) it is suggested that the eighty-two Siddhas surrounding the Siddha Virūpāin the other Nepalese painting, from the second quarter of the thirteenth century, which is now part of the Kronos Collections of S.M. Kossak, New York, are part of the same tradition. The Siddhas in this well-known and frequently reproduced painting have so far remained unidentified since their names are not inscribed in the painting. The second section of the book focuses on lesser known manifestations of (Cakra)samvara, a form of Heruka, and includes a discussion and reproduction of images of two groups of Samvaras. The first document is a painted scroll showing the group of sixty-four Samvaras with their consorts; the second one is a set of line drawings of what appears to be another group of Samvaras (thirty-six in number) with their consorts. The last section presents a set of line drawings which is based on a section of the parikramavidhi found in chapter 6 of Kuladatta’s Kriyāsamgraha(pañjikā). This text is an important Tantric manual which has been particularly influential in Nepal and whose author may even have been of Nepalese origin. The set of line drawings, which dates from approximately the eighteenth century, illustrates the ritual of walking around the site of a mandala. The line drawings are of great interest for the study of Buddhist ritual, since they illustrate a large number of stances, sitting postures and hand gestures described in the Kriyāsamgraha(pañjikā) but whose names are not recorded in standard reference works on iconography. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Gudrun Bühnemann is Professor in the Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia at The University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her recent publications include The Iconography of Hindu Tantric Deities (2 volumes, Groningen, 2000–01), Mandalas and Yantras in the Hindu Traditions (Leiden, 2003; New Delhi, 2007) and Eighty-four Asanas in Yoga. A Survey of Traditions (with Illustrations)(New Delhi, 2007).
The Origins of Yoga and Tantra by Geoffrey Samuel Product Description Yoga, tantra and other forms of Asian meditation are practised in modernized forms throughout the world today, but most introductions to Hinduism or Buddhism tell only part of the story of how they developed. This book is an interpretation of the history of Indic religions up to around 1200 CE, with particular focus on the development of yogic and tantric traditions. It assesses how much we really know about this period, and asks what sense we can make of the evolution of yogic and tantric practices, which were to become such central and important features of the Indic religious scene. Its originality lies in seeking to understand these traditions in terms of the total social and religious context of South Asian society during this period, including the religious practices of the general population with their close engagement with family, gender, economic life and other pragmatic concerns. Product Details Paperback: 432 pages Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (June 9, 2008) Language: English ISBN-10: 0521695341 ISBN-13: 978-0521695343 Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.8 x 1 inches
Buddhist Monasteries, Castles & Forts and Traditional Houses Author : O.C. Handa ISBN 8173872139 ISBN13 9788173872136 Publisher: Indus Publishing Company Published In 2008
2007 Faith and Power in Japanese Buddhist Art: 1600-2005 by Patricia J. Graham University of Hawaii Press, 2007 Book Review by Jonathan Ciliberto for Buddhist Art News Visual art is deeply tied to Buddhist practice, and certain sites and structures possess special significance to this practice. In Faith and Power in Japanese Buddhist Art: 1600-2005 Patricia J. Graham tracks “the thread of change over time to the practice of Buddhism” through a thorough examination of works of Japanese Buddhist art and architecture from the 17th into the 21st century. This superb survey includes non-traditional works — that is, those not connected with institutional Buddhism in Japan — including those intended for museums. It also aims to overturn the fallacy of the ‘declining’ Buddhist arts of Japan in recent centuries. Thus, the book has three goals: 1) to reconsider the canon of Japanese art in order to make room for Buddhist art and architecture from the 19th century to the present; 2) “to define the social history of recent Japanese Buddhist art and architecture” (p 3); 3) to illustrate the place of Buddhism as an influence or inspiration on art and artists outside of institutional Buddhism. It is the first book to study the 400-year span from the beginning of the Edo period to the present and to link this period to the established canon of Japanese Buddhist art (p 9-10). Continue Reading…
Burmese Buddhist Murals: Vol. 1-Epigraphic Corpus of the Powin Taung Caves By : Munier, Christophe & Myint Aung Bangkok 2007, 524 pp., illus. 56 pp. illus. in col., 210 x 295 mm, pbk. Weight 2.300 kgs Price : US$83.00 This book offers a systematic study of a preeminent site in the artistic and cultural heritage of Southeast Asia. With over five hundred caves, Powin Taung has for centuries attracted pilgrims and today houses eleven monasteries providing a home for about a hundred monks, novices and nuns. The caves, dug into a sandstone formation, are decorated with murals of the twenty-eight Buddhas. They depict the life of Gotama (the historical Buddha) and the Jatakas (the narratives of his previous lives). Only twenty-nine caves (regarded as the most important at the site) and one temple have captioned murals dating from the Nyaungyan and early Konbaung periods (Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries). This volume publishes, for the first time, the complete original Burmese texts of these captioned murals, laid out in registers, and their English translation. With its footnotes and appendices, this book is a tool for Buddhologists, historians and art historians, linguists, archaeologists and enlightened amateurs, as well as for guides. It makes a major contribution to the dissemination of the Burmese Buddhist cultural and literary heritage. This systematic work has fifty-six color pages, and altogether four hundred photographs. For each cave it gives a floor plan and plans of the walls with murals.