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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Buddhist Art

see Zen Art, Buddhism, Mandala

Early Buddhist Art of China and Central Asia: Part 4: China, Vol. 12. 1) by Marylin Martin Rhie (Handbook of Oriental Studies/Handbuch Der Orientalistik: Brill Academic) The earliest Buddhist art of China can only be understood when seen in relation to a wider area comprising Central Asia and India. This is exactly the purpose of the underlying volume.

Presenting the earliest Buddhist art of China in its wider context of the Bactrian and Southern Silk Road regions in Central Asia (1st to 4th century A.D.), the author offers clarifications of the issues and new assessments regarding the cross-cultural and cross-regional interrelationships, sources, dating and chronology during these formative initial phases of Buddhism from India to China.

With over 500 illustrations, 18 in full colour, 76 drawings and 14 maps, the book offers not only an overview of this complex and important period, but also the fullest and most detailed analysis of the art: individually, within its local region, and in relation to the wider, trans-Asian scope essential for a proper understanding of this period for a wide range of disciplines.

Early Buddhist Art of China and Central Asia: Part 4, Vol. 12.2 (2 Vol. Set, Text and Plates) by Marylin Martin Rhie (Handbook of Oriental Studies/Handbuch Der Orientalistik: Brill Academic) Volume two of Marylin Rhie’s widely acclaimed and formative multi-volume work presents a comprehensive, scholarly and detailed study of the Buddhist art of China and Central Asia from 316-439 A.D. during the formative early periods of Buddhism in the Eastern Chin and Sixteen Kingdoms Period. Using texts translated from the Chinese together with stylistic and technical analyses, the chronology and sources of the art are more clearly defined than in previous studies for the regions of South and North China (other than Kansu) and the important sites of Tumshuk, Kucha and Karashahr on the Northern Silk Route in eastern Central Asia.

Furthermore, by incorporating extensive religious and historical materials, this work not only contributes to clarifying the regional characteristics of the art, but also offers new insights into the broader, interregional relationships of this politically fragmented period.

Early Buddhist Art of China and Central Asia Part 4: Volume 12.3: The Western Ch’in in Kansu in the Sixteen Kingdoms Period and Inter-relationships with the Buddhist Art of Gandhāra  by Marylin Martin Rhie  (Handbook of Oriental Studies/Handbuch Der Orientalistik: Brill Academic) 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, this study introduces the iconography of the five Buddhas and its relation to the art of Gandhara and the famous five colossal T'an-yao caves at Yün-kang.

This book is for those studying Chinese Buddhist art, religion and history and Gandharan art; it is relevant for libraries, museums, academic institutions and students of Asian art and religion. (460 b/w pp of illustrations)

Excerpt: A preface to the third volume of Marylin Martin Rhie's monumental history of early Chinese Buddhist art might strike some as tardy and superfluous. Erik Zürcher (1928-2008), the modern master of the field of early Chinese Buddhism, already contributed the opening words to the first volume (1999), which covered the Later Han, Three Kingdoms, and Western Jin periods. The second volume of the series (2002) proceeded to the Eastern Jin (in the south of China) and Buddhist art in the north through the year 439. This third volume shifts the focus to the period of the Western Qin in Gansu. But beyond the change in historical and geographical concentration, this third volume deals with new subjects and brings to bear perspectives that differ significantly from those of the earlier volumes. Hence, a brief benediction at the start may not be out of place.

The Western Qin kingdom (385-431), which history books usually subsume under the Sixteen Kingdoms of north China in the fourth and fifth centuries, was centered in the area of modern Lan-zhou in eastern Gansu and occupied a position of prime importance in the history of Buddhism. The artistic and religious models produced there are nothing short of magnificent. While an ethnically-Han regime ruled in the southeast, this part of the Hexi corridor was ruled by the Qifu clan, a Xianbei group who partly followed Sinitic models. Under the Western Qin the area underwent a renaissance of artistic production, especially visible at the complexes of cave-temples at Binglingsi and Maijishan. Here we find the first monumental Buddha statue known to survive in the Middle Kingdom, as well as early examples of motifs and iconographies that would later become central to Chinese Buddhism, including the Buddhas of the ten-directions, groups of five Buddhas, the thousand-Buddha motif, the deities of pure land Buddhism, the Buddha of healing (Bhaiajyaguru), and the Buddha of the future (Maitreya).

As in her earlier work, in this volume Professor Rhie offers the reader an unprecedented vision of how stylistic similarities in the three-dimensional modeling of drapery and other elements of Buddhist statuary cohere across vast stretches of time and space. Combining the appreciation of aesthetic detail and an encyclopedic knowledge of artistic expression that spans Eastern and Western Asia, the author argues, where appropriate, for the flow of influence. From her unrivalled perspective, eastern Gansu in this fifty-year period mediates between Chinese influences from southeast China and Central Asian and Indian influences from the west. Her account engages virtually every relevant element of visual and artistic analysis, including the style and construction of statuary and garment, bodily poses, color, iconographic arrangement and identification, and architectural design.

For the study of Buddhist art of the earlier period, the relative paucity of other forms of evidence makes this method of stylistic analysis the best (and essentially the only) resort. For the time and place under discussion in this volume, however, textual sources are relatively numerous, and the author has not been afraid to delve deeply into them. Her forays into the study of Buddhist scripture and historical records are expert, constituting a springboard not only for new interpretations but for a new approach to her material. For anyone interested in the art and mythology of the Lotus Sutra, various pure land sutras, or the Flower Garland (Huayan) Sutra, the analysis offered in this book opens up new avenues of research. Combining mature and astute visual analysis with close readings and new interpretations of the texts, this volume of Professor Rhie's work is a model for future scholarship. --Stephen F. Teiser

The region now known as Kansu province was an enormously consequential area in the developments of Buddhism and Buddhist art in the Sixteen Kingdoms Period (317-439 A.D.) in China. However, because of its relative inaccessibility until recently, very little was actually known or made available for study of its Buddhist art until the latter half of the 20th century. Chinese scholars then began to investigate the remains of the ancient cave temple sites in that region, which were even at that time very difficult to reach, with some exceptions, such as the famous Tun-huang at the far western reaches of Kansu. With the "rediscovery" of Ping-ling ssu Mai-chi shan T'ien-t'i shan Ma-t'i ssu Wen-shu shan, Ch'ang-ma and other sites, a whole new world opened up for early Buddhist art in China.

The initial work of investigation and preliminary reports was undertaken largely by the research and preservation bureaus of local areas within Kansu, and so a body of materials comprising original sculptures and remains of many wall paintings became available, many in an astonishing state of preservation. These reports revealed an incredibly rich storehouse from the period of the Sixteen Kingdoms (and later) that is still offering us important glimpses, previously thought unattainable, for the time around the late 4th to early 5th century. These remains fill an otherwise slim reservoir of art remains from other major regions of China at this time, prior to the more well-documented period of the Northern Wei in North China from 439 A.D. Thus a wider window on the 4th and early 5th century has been provided by the miraculous survival of art from the Kansu region.

Volume I of this series studied the early Buddhist art of the Later Han (20-220 A.D.), Three Kingdoms (220-265 A.D.) and Western Chin d! fl (265/285-317 A.D.) periods in China along with the art of the corresponding time in Western Central Asia and the Southern Silk Road kingdoms, especially that of the kingdom of Shan-shan AM. Volume II focused on the Eastern Chin tt period (317-420) in South China and the Sixteen Kingdoms (317-439) in the North, as well as the major sites on the Northern Silk Road, with the exception of Turfan, which will appear in a later volume of this series. The current volume is the first of several that takes us to Kansu province in the Northwest of China during the Sixteen Kingdoms Period, and it especially focuses on the art, Buddhism and history of the Western Ch'in (385-431) kingdom in eastern Kansu.

The Western Ch'in, though not a major state at the time, contributed substantially in the area of early Buddhist art. The kingdom rose from the ruins of Fu Chien's 4-M Former Ch'in (351-385/394), which collapsed after the infamous and disastrous battle at the Fei River (Fei Shui) in the autumn of 383. Despite Western Ch'in's constant struggle against the stronger Later Ch'in (386-418) centered in the Ch'ang-an area under the Yao a clan, and the ambitious and aggressive Northern Liang, (397-439) in central Kansu under Chii-ch'ii Meng-hsiin (401-433), the first three Western Ch'in rulers were able to gradually expand and solidify their territory, which reached its maximum strength and prosperity during the reign of Ch'i-fu Chih-p'an (412-428). Soon thereafter, however, the kingdom collapsed in 431. Nevertheless, even during the forty-six years of its existence, the Western Ch'in offers such consequential remains of Buddhist art, especially from the site of Ping-ling ssu, that its impact reaches not only to the understanding of the art of other sites in Kansu, but has significant implications for the rest of China, and even for the Buddhist art of Central Asia and Gandhara. Because of these factors, this volume concentrates primarily on this site and its early major remains in Cave 169.

The art that survives from the territory under the Western Ch'in emerges as a crucial component in understanding the late years of the 4th century and the early years of the 5th century, a particularly difficult but consequential and formative period for Buddhism and Buddhist art in China. The existing remains at the sites of Ping-ling ssu and Mai-chi shan di provide a crucial foundational template against which to measure the dating, chronology and iconography of the art from other Buddhist sites of Kansu that will be undertaken in subsequent volumes of this series. Ping-ling ssu in particular provides the materials to formulate a detailed chronology of the Buddhist art of the Kansu region and becomes a major factor in unlocking some of the iconographic issues of this time. Mai-chi shan, though less prolific at this time, has such splendid early images that it holds a special place, and at the same time is a prime source in determining the chain of early 5th century developments of the Chinese artistic idiom in Buddhist art, one of the major issues of this book.

To more fully understand the period and to introduce the art in the region of eastern Kansu, the political history of the Western Ch'in and its geographic importance are addressed in Chapter 1, using mostly primary historical sources, notably, the Chin shu . Though recognizing that these histories by no means present the whole historical picture, that they were compiled at a time much later than the events themselves, and that they may also have an "official" underpinning, these dynastic histories nevertheless provide essential data among an otherwise scant written record available today. Thus per-tinent passages regarding the history of the Western Ch'in have been translated here as an attempt to at least offer a framework for understanding some historical aspects of the time and place. In Chapter 1 the excerpts are not presented in exact literal translation, but the passages are closely summarized from a complete translation in order to more specifically grasp the history of the Western Ch'in than is currently possible from western sources, and more exact translations occur in the accompanying footnotes. Also, records pertaining to the Buddhism under the Western Ch'in are translated, including several biographies of famous Buddhist monks from the Kao-seng chuan. This brings into play the importance of the communication routes, a factor that will concern us throughout this volume, especially when investigating the sources of the art in India, Gandhara, Afghanistan, and Central Asia.

Chapter 2 studies the rare, nearly perfect, gilt bronze Buddha altar found at Ching-ch'uan I I in eastern Kansu, not far from Ch'ang-an. The specifics of its find and likely history are discussed, and its dating and relevance is assessed within the chronology of the bronze Buddha images presented in Volume II of this series. The images studied in this chapter serve an important reference throughout the book in helping to determine the dating of other images and also in formulating a chronology of the time.

This is followed by a concentrated study of the earliest remains from the cave temple site of Ping-ling ssu, the spectacular mountainous site on the Yellow River and not far from one of the capitals (Fu-han) of the Western Ch'in. Chapter 3 focuses on the large clay standing Buddha of Niche No.1, not only the oldest remains at Ping-ling ssu, but the only known early surviving example of a monumental Buddha image in China from the late 4th century.

Chapters 4 through 7 examine the art of the Cave 169 at Ping-ling ssu, which spans the entire period of the Western Ch'in from ca. 380's-430's in a practically unbroken chronological chain. The results become vital in establishing the foundation for a chronology of art of that time in Kansu and in other areas. Cave 169 is closely examined utilizing the pioneer studies of Chinese scholars, particularly those of Teng Yii-hsiang . and Chang Pao-hsi, but with emphasis placed here on unraveling the specific dating, chronology, iconographies as well as the iconographic programs of the art more than has been done so far. These chapters start with the West Wall (back wall) and move sequentially to the East Wall (entrance), South and North Walls. Each chapter presents new results concerning the art and offers some new theories concerning the identification of the images. Various sutra translations into Chinese prior to ca. 425 A.D. are fruitfully used, a source which has not yet been brought to bear with sufficient vigor on the problems of identification of imagery for this time. These yielded important evidences, including some significant representations apparently specifically related to the early translation of the Lotus Sutra by Dharmaraksa in 286 A.D., prior to the 406 A.D. translation by Kumarajiva, and with regard to the Amitayus triad niche of Group 6 with its rare inscriptions containing the date of make and the names of the images and donors.

Not only is the Group 6 triad of seated Buddha and two Bodhisattvas the oldest surviving representation in China of Amitayus and the two great Bodhisattvas of Sukhavati, the Buddha land of Amitayus, as described in the Wu-liang-shou ching AY, but also this niche has the inscribed ten direction Buddhas from the Hua-yen ching. It is clear that the 60-chüan Hua-yen ching trans-lated by Buddhabhadra (completed in 420; revision and collation completed in 422) in Chien-k'ang  in the South was known to the makers and donors of the Group 6 ensemble, which is the earliest surviving representation in art from this sutra presently known in China. Since it is the religious experts (i.e., the knowledgeable monks) who in large part probably govern the iconographic accuracy and choices in much of the major art at this time in order to assure the proper representation of the religious system and its meaning, it is likely that the major Buddhist masters, such as T'an-ma-pi and Tao-jung int, two of the monk donors (one foreign and one Chinese) of this niche, were involved in the particular choices and design of the Group 6 images. For some reason, possibly because of some linkage by either or both of these masters, or by the other monks and donors, the Hua-yen ching of the Buddhabhadra translation was taken as one of the major textual sources, although it would appear to be secondary in this case to the major text, which clearly appears to have been the Wu-liang-shou ching, currently believed by a number of scholars to have been translated by Buddhabhadra together with Pao-yun in Chien-k'ang and put out in 421 A.D. The close interaction between the texts translated by Buddhabhadra in the South in conjunction with the evidences in the Group 6 niche regarding dates and donors are carefully examined and are shown to be of such importance that light can be shed on some of the major problems regarding the dating and attributions of the texts. The study of the Wu-liang-shou ching presented in Chapters 6 and 7, taking into account the work of Japanese scholars such as Fujita Kotatsu in relation to the Group 6 materials, offers new and pertinent evidences regarding the resolution of certain problems surrounding that text. The close interaction between text and art is, in this case, a particularly unusual intersection of fortuitous circumstances and puts a truly high premium on the rare images of the Group 6 niche, its sculptures, paintings and inscriptions. Furthermore, Group 6 relates to the difficult problem of the appearance of Amitabha/ Amitayus in the art of India and Gandhara. At the end of Chapter 6 these issues are discussed and a possible example of the Sukhavati Buddha land of Amitayus in Gandharan sculpture is offered and analyzed. This begins the impetus to study in this and the forthcoming volumes the relation between the early Chinese Buddhist art and that of the Gandhara and Afghanistan regions, very likely the "Chi-pin" of this time in Chinese records.

In this direction, the art of Cave 169 also shows four cases of a grouping of five Buddhas, an iconog-raphy which has not received enough attention heretofore and which is considered very significantly here. Realizing the importance of Cave 169 for the study of the five Buddha iconography, in Chapter 8 a preliminary investigation of sets of five Buddha configurations in the art of Gandhara and Afghanistan is undertaken with notable results that not only explain the four different cases appearing in Cave 169, but also uncover the probable development of the iconography of the five Buddhas in general, as well as other sets of multiple Buddhas, from the Gandharan region. It is my hope that this study even opens up more possibilities for understanding the complex and vital developments in the art of Gandhara and Afghanistan.

Attention is also briefly turned in Chapter 8 to one of the greatest expressions of five Buddhas in the five colossal T'an-yao caves at the imperial Northern Wei caves of Yün-kanga in north-eastern China around the 460's-480's. The findings from the study of Gandharan and Afghanistan art and iconography in conjunction with the rare and amazingly important remains from Cave 169 at Ping-ling ssu allow for a new consideration of the identity of the primary colossal images of the five T'an-yao caves, one of the most extraordinary productions in all Buddhist art. The ramifications are wide and important, and they are related to the remains in Cave 169 at Ping-ling ssu in Kansu, which provides the evidence and the dating that allow such an investigation to bear fruit. Both the Ping-ling ssu Cave 169 study and the theory presented regarding the five T'an-yao caves offer, in my view, major contributions to the on-going study of the appearance of the Mahayana in Buddhist art, in all its forms, a factor which fundamentally underlies much of the study in this series. The early Buddhist art of China, I believe, has the potentially crucial materials for understanding and possibly revealing, in a "reverse" role, many of the developments and evolution of art and ideas taking place in India, Gandhara, Afghanistan and Central Asia.

Finally, in Chapter 9, the book returns to Kansu and the site of Mai-chi shan for a few caves from this early period, at the site of Hsüan-kao's meditation activities during the period when the Western Ch'in occupied this territory (around 417-428). The remains of large, stunningly beautiful stucco images are seen to draw inspiration from the Gandharan art we studied in Chapter 8, and to probably have echoes from the art of China from Ch'ang-an, a factor which compliments the finding of the resonances of the art from Group 6 in Cave 169 at Ping-ling ssu with art and texts from South China. The establishment of an early dating for Cave 78 and 74 is of consequence, as is the introduc-tion of theories of identification for the images of these two major caves and for the Maitreya image of Cave 169 at Mai-chi shan. Both Ping-ling ssu and Mai-chi shan are critical references for charting the developments of early Mahayana Buddhist art of this time in the broader context of India and Central Asia and in regard to the particular Chinese responses and contributions.

As in the other volumes, importance is given to translation of records and texts from the Chinese and to a detailed, object-oriented analysis that not only seeks to document the art, but also leads to understanding of the artistic styles that can indicate the chronological sequences of the art, and ultimately allows for comprehension of the relationships and interactions among the art from other regions of China, from Central Asia, Gandhara, Afghanistan and India. In exploring these connections from a standpoint centered in China, which frequently offers resources in terms of records, dates, historical data, and translations of texts which are not readily available outside of China, as well as the remains of imagery, remarkable evidences have appeared that impact the wider world of Buddhist art during the formative 4th and early 5th century. This approach is pervasive in all the volumes of this series which seek, while explicating the Buddhist art and its roots in Buddhism and Chinese history, to open up the potential inhering in the vast reserves of Chinese art and culture for realization of the interrelationships with the other Buddhist regions of Asia.

I have had the good fortune to have been able to visit many Buddhist sites in Asia over the years. From my first visits from 1965-1975 to India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, parts of Central Asia, Korea and Japan I was amazed to see many connections between their Buddhist art and that of China, my main research focus. When China finally opened during the 1980's and 1990's my numerous visits to the Buddhist sites of northern and northwestern China continued to reaffirm—first-hand and in instance after instance—my early initial awareness of the clear relatedness between the Buddhist art of India and that of China, through which there was also a continuing impact on the Buddhist art of Korea and Japan during all the major periods of their Buddhist art. It became my concerted work to document these connections in the art and to work out a method of utilizing these connections to help inform and even resolve major issues of dating, chronologies and iconography in the Buddhist art of China in particular, and, in some cases, even with those of the other Buddhist countries.

Results have been forthcoming, and I now consider this approach to be one important method to understanding not only the broad issues, but also pointedly specific ones. This approach, of course, does not obviate the necessity for individually focused studies on other issues, such as of patronage, local societal and economic factors, reconstruction and interpretation, but such an approach offers a place for including all such specific studies within the purview of the greater whole and vast world of inter-relationships. I can note that in all my work I am aware of lacunae in the treatment of history and in the usage of Buddhist texts, but I have attempted to provide what I judge to be sufficient in the context of Buddhist art history. In this volume I have been gratified by the new evidences that the Group 6 Amitayus niche in Cave 169 at Ping-ling ssu has been able to offer towards certain problems concerning the translation dates of some important Buddhist sutras in China. For early Buddhist art in China the approach noted above, which I call a comprehensive method, has in fact opened up a new awareness of issues, and presents perhaps unexpectedly important factors to emerge onto the stage for further investigation, such as the study of the five-Buddha iconography in Ping-ling ssu Cave 169, Gandhara, and in the great T'an-yao caves of the mid 5th century in northeast China and its consequences in later periods, some of which will be further developed in the subsequent volumes of this series.

As I close this introduction, a few things come to mind. Obviously, some of the ideas I present in this volume are my theories, though they are the results of long and hard thought. I expect the legitimacy of those assertions and suggestions will bear out when more evidences are available in the future. At any rate, all assertions or theories should be carefully presented with credible justifications. In the study of art history I can say that hardly anything is not speculative or not imperfect, particularly to those who do not allow any speculative possibilities. In spite of this, it is incumbent on us to offer, conjecture, and predict the possibilities and feasibilities for the advancement of the field. In research work of any kind, we have to peel off the unknowns bit by bit and advance step by step to establish theories utilizing available, pertinent, yet examined, evidences and data. Normally, we have to start with a method which works best for a given task, and then, if possible, other methods should be applied to obtain further results. All the results from different approaches should be carefully examined to see if there are any discrepancies. If there are, obviously more research is required.

In my work concerning Buddhist art, it is crucial, even for obtaining new ideas, to have wide and deep knowledge of the art (particularly of the art objects themselves), Buddhism, and the cultural history of the time throughout the Buddhist world of Asia. Also, I would like to emphasize that the results of Buddhist art historical research can be greatly enhanced, properly understood, and deeply appreciated by knowing the essential basics, such as chronology and iconography. In other words, without sufficient knowledge of these basics there is always room for making errors or incorrect assessments. To the younger scholars, I would like to say that no matter what areas of art history you engage in—textual study, interpretive work, or object-oriented visual and technical analysis, or any combination of these or others—the essential matter is that your work should be "good", credible, and as accurate as possible. After all, that is important in the end. So here again, as in the other volumes, I will leave several interesting problems in the conclusion that you might like to ponder in the future.

This series of books seeks to comprehensively understand the early developments in Chinese Buddhist art, its sources, relationships, contributions and interpretations. This volume, which is the first part of the study of the Kansu region in northwest China during the Sixteen Kingdoms Period (317-439), focuses on the art from the eastern part of Kansu, mainly under the kingdom of the Western Ch'ing and provides an essential, foundational basis for the subsequent volumes. In addition, a number of major issues emerged, the study and resolution of which seem to have wide-ranging interest and significance. The main themes, issues and results of this volume are briefly noted below.

I. A detailed chronology provided by the sculptures and wall paintings in Cave 169 at the cave temple site of Ping-ling ssu on the upper reaches of the Yellow River is provided here in more detailed analysis and dating than have been done hitherto. Because of earlier work in Vols. I and II, such a detailed chronology became feasible. Some of the conclusions regarding the dating and chronology of the early works at Ping-ling ssu include:

1) the standing Buddha in Niche No.1 near the entrance of the site becomes the oldest known monumental Buddha to survive in China, ca. 375-385;

2) the early phase of images in Cave 169 includes the large images of the West (main) Wall, Groups 18,17 and 16 that date ca. 385-400 A.D.;

3) the East (entrance) Wall has a large thousand Buddha painting (Group 24), dating ca. 400-410;

4) the South (left) Wall (Groups 23-20) paintings and sculptures reveal a slightly later phase, ranging from ca. 405 to ca. 420;

5) the North (right) wall has a span from ca. 400 to ca. 430, when major work appears to have ended during the final days of the Western Ch'in (demised 431 A.D.). Groups 1 and 4 are ca. 400 and Groups 7 and 9-14 are ca. 425; Group 3 is the latest, ca. 428-430. Among the chronological issues, the impor-tant Group 6 sculptures and paintings required re-assessment of its dated inscription, which can be read as either 420 (the nien-hao date) or 424 (the tz'u date, an astrological date based on the stations of Jupiter). For determining the accurate date, further information was needed, and this fortunately became available as this study unfolded (see below).

II. Certain groupings of images in Cave 169 appear to have special significance iconographically. Some of these had already been recognized, but there were others that had not. Cave 169 offers a num-ber of cases that show the Buddhist practices and worship preferences of the time, which could now be generally pinpointed on the basis of the detailed chronology noted above. Thus we can apprehend the Buddhist thought and practice of the time in this area in starker and more complete form than previously, and more than provided by the art studied in Vols. I and II, which consists mostly small votive bronze images from norteastern China (to which the well-preserved bronze Buddha altar found at Ching ch'uan studied in Chapter 2 also contributes). Also, there are some differences to be seen in the Cave 169 iconography when compared with the early art of Central Asia, such as seen in the early cave temples at Kizil, Kumtura and Shorchuk Ming-oi studied in Vol. II. This indicates that China had its own particular focus despite the fact that there was continued artistic interrelation.

For understanding the problems of iconographic identity more clearly, the textual basis and an awareness of elements of Buddhist history of the time needed to be considered. This eventually required some study of a considerable number of sutras and texts translated into Chinese prior to ca. 425 A.D., which also involved, in certain cases, delving into the problems of textual history, dates and authorship. This pursuit, however, yielded some surprisingly significant results, such as the following. 1) Establishing Group 18 in Cave 169 as based on the early translation of the Saddharmapupdarika Sutra (Lotus Sutra) by Dharmaraksa in 286. This translation (the Cheng fa-hua ching, T 263) is different in terminology and in the translation of certain passages from the translation made by KumarajIva in 406 (Miao fa lien hua ching T 262). This indicates not only that texts can actually relate quite closely to art, but that in using texts one needs to be careful with regard to the internal issues of the texts. It is important to have as accurate a dating mechanism as possible for both the art and the texts, then this kind of detailed study can possibly yield unexpectedly important results. This may be the case for Group 18 and its suggested identity as the scene of Sakyamuni and the ten-direction Buddhas, who are the "transformation bodies" of Sakyamuni, as graphically described in Chapter 11 of the Lotus Sutra according to the Dharmaraksa translation, which is translated in Chap-ter 4 for the pertinent passages.

For Group 6, one of the most astonishingly fruitful and important remains in early Chinese Buddhist art, the study of texts and art revealed some remarkable new evidences. Even though the Group 6 sculptures, wall paintings and inscriptions are already known to be important, a deeper study using texts produced even more consequential data. This niche has remains of inscriptions that include a date of making, the names of some of the donors and the names of the images. When looked at care-fully, however, some problems emerged.

a) The date in the inscription could be either 420 or 424. Though the 420 date has been generally accepted and used in publications, it is not entirely certain and the problem of interpretation was difficult to resolve without additional information.

b) Another question was the textual basis of the triad of sculptures, inscribed as Wu-liang-shou fo (Amitayus Buddha), El Kuan-shih-yin p'u-sa (Avalokitegvara Bodhisattva), and Te-ta-shih-chih p'u-sa (Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva). This would appear to be forthright, but it required investigation of the known Chinese translations of texts dealing with Amitayus/Amitabha and Sukhavati (the Buddha land of Amitayus/Amitabha). Studies by scholars such as Fujita Kotatsu and recent work by Paul Harrison and Jan Nattier on early translations of texts into Chinese were very helpful. From a study of this literature and by checking the Chinese translations, particularly regarding the terminology and phraseology, it was possible to see that the basic text for Group 6 was very likely to be the Wu-liang-shou ching (T 360). However, the translation(s) of the (Larger) Sukhavativyuha Sutra, of which the Wu-liang-shou ching is one, and the date of the transla-tion of this text is one of the most difficult problems in early Chinese Buddhist textual history, even for text specialists. Again, more information was needed in order to hone the issue and perhaps shed a little more light on the date and authorship of the Wu-liang-shou ching. Since Group 6 is dated, it seemed possible that it could make a contribution in this area.

c) More information came from the Group 6 wall paintings, where there is a panel of the ten-direc-tion Buddhas with inscribed names and directions for each. These were found (in a study by Chang Pao-hsi) to match with those named in the 60-chüan Hua-yen ching (T 278), the Avatarpsaka Sutra, translated by Buddhabhadra in Chien-k'ang in the South. According to records in the Ch'u san-tsang chi chi and in a colophon at the end of the sutra, the translation was completed in the 6th month of the 2nd year of Yüan-hsi (420 A.D.) and the revision/collation was completed in the 12th month of 2nd year of Yung-ch'u (t (422 A.D.). These dates are important to compare with the date of the Group 6 main inscription, which is either the 3rd month of 420 (the nien-hao date) or 3rd month of 424 (the tz'u date). The date of 3rd month of 420 would be too early for the translated text of the Hua-yen ching (finished translation in the 6th month of 420) to reach the Western Ch'in in time to be included in the wall painting of the ten-direction Buddhas (not to mention with regard to the date of 422 for the completion of the revision and collation of the text). This factor provides the new information needed to determine the date of the Group 6 niche with some certainty as 424, the date based on the stations of Jupiter, a time-honored way of calculating dates from ancient times in China, and less changeable than the nien-hao system, which changes at the will of the ruler.

d) Returning to the Wu-liang-shou ching with the added evidence provided by the more certain date of the Group 6 niche, it can be seen that the 424 date for the Group 6 Amitayus niche, the iconography of which was likely based on the Wu-liang-shou ching text, could readily support the 421 translation by Buddhabhadra and Pao-yün thought by some scholars as the most plausible among the possible translators and dates. Since Group 6 is now securely datable to 424 and not 420, which would be too early for supporting the 421 translation date of the Wu-liang-shou ching, the Group 6 niche becomes an important factor in the history of this text. In this way, not only was the date of Group 6 settled by the information regarding the 60-chüan Hua-yen ching, but in turn the Group 6 niche helped to con-firm the 421 date—and hence the authorship by Buddhabhadra and Pao-yün—of the Wu-liang-shou ching, considered a fundamentally important text of the later Pure Land traditions.

III. There are many other ramifications from the Group 6 study, including these:

1) T'an-ma-pi and Tao-jung are the two leading monks in the donor procession of Group 6. T'an-mi-pi, a famous foreign meditation master, is also known from the biography of Hsiian-kao in the Kao-seng chuan. Both T'an-ma-pi and Hsüan-kao cross paths at Mai-chi shan and have a history with the Western Ch'in court of Ch'i-fu Chih-p'an (r. 412-428). Tao-jung is also known as a donor in the earlier thousand Buddha painting (ca. 400-410) of Group 24 in Ping-ling ssu Cave 169. Tao-jung became known as a teacher of the Lotus Sutra during the period Kumarajiva was in Ch'ang-an (from ca. 402 until his death, ca. 911 or 913), and, with the backing of Kumarajiva, became famous for winning the debate with a foreign heterodox master who had come from Sri Lanka to defeat the Buddhist masters in China. The Group 6 paintings and inscriptions of T'an-mi-pi and Tao-jung add a further element of verification concerning these historical events.

2) The donors of Group 6 are high officials of the Western Ch'in court. From their sophisticated gar-ments we can understand that by that time in Western Ch'in, the court was using a style and form of apparel that clearly relates to the Eastern Chin in the South, as known from the paintings of Ku K'ai-chih (d. ca. 406).

3) There is a clear linkage between the new translations produced by Buddhabhadra in Chien-k'ang from ca. 412 into the 420's and the Group 6 niche. Even the choice of Amitayus and the Wu-liang-shou ching as the main icon and text seems to reflect the strong Amitayus worship and patronage known in the South, especially as related to the great monk Hui-yüan (d. 416) on Lu shan ail'. Group 6
shows a relation with the South in texts, Amitayus worship, and even in the fashion styles of the high class donors. It also appears that the style of the Buddha sculpture and his halo, etc., could be in the cent and amazing survival of the stylistic traditions of sculpture and painting of the South of this time.

IV. Among the important remains of Cave 169 there are four groups of what appear to be a set of five Buddhas (in one case four Buddhas with Maitreya Bodhisattva). These occur in Groups 16, 23, 20 and 12 in chronological sequence from ca. 400-425. Though three of these groups of five have been noted by Teng Yü-hsiang and others, that of Group 12 has not, and the others were not seriously considered for their iconographic significance. Solving the problem of the identity, origins and development of the set of five Buddhas required investigation into the major sources of Buddhist art in India, Gandhara, Afghanistan and Central Asia. In addition, looming over this very interesting appearance of the four differently configured groups of five Buddhas in Cave 169 at Ping-ling ssu dating within the span of the first quarter of the 5th century, is the stupendous set of colossal images in the five T'an-yao caves at Yün-kang, made under the Northern Wei during the 460's-480's following the restoration of Buddhism after the 446-452 Buddhist persecution of Emperor Tai-wu. The five T'an-yao caves are a subject I have been working on since 1982. In the work for this book, there appeared to be a linkage to further understanding the five T'an-yao caves through the earlier appear-ances of five Buddhas in Cave 169. Thus, taking the Cave 169 images as an important remains within China that show four different forms of the five Buddha configuration, I searched for possible prototypes. The most fruitful results came from the art of Gandhara and eastern Afghanistan (Hadda), the area known to the Chinese of this time as Chi-pin WM. This initiated a concerted study of the Gandhara and Afghanistan art of the 4th and 5th centuries that is presented in Chapter 8. It should also be noted that the study in Chapter 8 shows the importance of the iconography of the seven Buddhas and the Buddhas of this Bhadrakalpa (the present eon) in both Gandhara and China.

Because the art of Gandhara and Afghanistan is so complex with regard to its history, dating, chronology, texts and iconography, quite a detailed study is needed. Here, however, I focus on the appearance of sets of multiple Buddhas, which fortunately sunrive on many of the stupas of Taxila, Peshawar and Hackla in particular. These have not been studied much since the work of Marshall, Stein, and others in the first half of the 20th century. The study presented in Chapter 8 opened up not only incredibly interesting and important issues that related to early Chinese Buddhist art, but it also showed that China offers rare evidences that can help in the study of Gandharan art. It is thus that I learned the practical significance of studying early Chinese Buddhist art in close relation to the art of Gandhara and Afghanistan, in addition to that of India proper and Central Asia. Gandhara and Afghanistan open up an altogether higher level of understanding of the Buddhism and Buddhist art of the 4th-5th centuries. Knowing the history, the translated texts, and the art of China in turn, however, shed new and important light on Gandharan art. Furthermore, the investigation into the five Buddha iconography led to a major breakthrough in understanding the main images of the five T'an-yao caves. Seen in the light of these new evidences from Gandhara and Afghanistan as well as those from Ping-ling ssu Cave 169, we can apprehend a course of development which reaches the immensely more complex expression witnessed in the T'an-yao caves. There is still more to find out before the fuller story is known, but the Gandharan and Ping-ling ssu evidences are a firm step on the way.

Further, these evidences reflect the incredibly rapid growth of Mahayana concepts of Buddhism and art that seem to come like an avalanche in the 4th-5th century in Gandhara and are picked up and even elaborated on in China during the Sixteen Kingdoms and early Northern Wei periods. The art and texts show us an amazing development in China from ca. 400-460's, that is, in many ways, reflect-ing the stupendous emergence of imagery seen in Gandhara and Afghanistan in the 4th-5th centuries (but which decreases and declines markedly by around the end of the 5th century in Gandhara, but seems to continue in Afghanistan). Ping-ling ssu Cave 169 must be credited with opening the door and showing us the early stages of this movement in the Buddhist art of China preserved in the Buddhist art of Kansu. This volume is only the beginning of the Kansu study, which will continue with central and western Kansu in subsequent volumes of this series.

There are many issues that remain to be considered, and I will just briefly note a few for those who are interested:

1) the problem of the iconography of the Buddhas of the Three Times -t (three worlds) and the possible meaning as Past, Present and Future as seen in the levels of some stupas;

2) the problem of the pair of the cross-ankled and contemplative Bodhisattvas, which is still unre-solved, probably because of multiple possibilities and uses as the art is changing in different regions over time;

3) the degree of influence imparted by the Visualization Sutras on the art;

4) the details of identifying the Lotus Sutra in all its ramifications in apparent variations in both China and Gandhara;

5) understanding the 1,000 Buddhas, which seem elusive in Gandhara, but which may appear in Bamiyan, and are certainly a major factor in China;

6) the appearance of the colossal images, which remains an issue with respect to Bannyan, Kizil and China;

7) the fuller understanding of Maitreya in various forms in China and in relation to Central Asia as well as Gandhara.

It should finally be noted that the rare early paintings of the Lotus Sutra in Cave 169 at Ping-ling ssu interestingly show the two Buddhas of Chapter 11, Sakyamuni and Prabhataratna, as seated together in the seven jewel pagoda with both legs pendant. Further, the amazing Group 18 with the ten-direc-tion Buddhas is a wonderful display and panorama probably also from Chapter 11 of the Lotus Sutra. Both the Group 18 standing Buddha and the Group 17 standing Bodhisattva are special images that remain to show the subtle yet strong sculptural styles of ca. 400, a time with few indications of the art of the period just after the wars of the late 4th century and the beginning of a glorious few decades in the development of Buddhist text translations and in the Buddhist art of North, South, and Northwest China.

This volume ends with Mai-chi shan and four of the caves and niches at this site that so graphically remind us of the meditation practices of the Buddhists of that time. When actually at the site, one tends to be terrified by walking at the edge of space along the high, vertical cliff. But in due time, in the presence of the beauties of the site, its scenery and its images, one calms down. The human history is brought home by the biography of Hsüan-kao, just as it is in Cave 169 at Ping-ling ssu with the monks Tao-jung and T'an-ma-pi. As we saw that Group 6 in Cave 169 at Ping-ling ssu took us to the apparent roots of the now lost Buddhist art of the Eastern Chin in the South during the time of Buddhabhadra's translation activities, Caves 78 and 74 at Mai-chi shan seem to possibly be showing us the grandeur of the artistic traditions of the great center of Ch'ang-an during the period of Kumarajiva's momentous translation work there from ca. 402-ca. 411. These Mai-chi shan caves also appear to offer important examples related to Lotus Sutra iconography that can be linked to examples in Gandhara. In the Cave 169 niche at Mai-chi shan we probably see the oldest remaining cross-ankled Maitreya in China that can clearly be identified as Maitreya in Tusita Heaven.

Buddhist Art And Architecture Of China by Yuheng Bao, Qing Tian, Letitia Lane (Edwin Mellen Press) A tale has been told that the Chinese sage, Hui Shi, was about to begin a sermon to an assembled congregation when a bird close by began to sing. Master Hui paused until the sweet songster had finished its melody. Then he descended from the pulpit, declaring that the sermon had just been preached. What did he mean? Hopefully, by the time the reader has finished this volume, he will know the answer to that, plus a great deal more about Chinese Buddhism and the marvelous works of art that it has inspired throughout the centuries.

This book has been organized so that a brief biography of Prince Gautama (later the Buddha), is first presented, followed by an explanation of the Four Noble Beliefs, and the Eightfold Path which a Buddhist must follow to reach the Enlightenment, and finally the Nirvana. Then, using an historical chronology that ties philosophic and aesthetic ideas to the development of artistic styles and iconographic symbolism, the gradual change is traced from Indian Buddhism to the less severe form of Chinese Buddhism that is an amalgamation with traditional Daoism.

A large number of examples of Buddhist painting, sculpture and architecture are provided and discussed in detail. There are also a number of colored plates that are used as illustrations as, for instance, the group of large, painted clay statues in the round, combined with huge painted murals on the walls of a cave temple that create a breath-taking, theater-like reality of Buddha and some of his followers. Or another example might be the images in sculpture and painting of Avalokitesvara or (Guan Yin in Chinese), the Goddess of Mercy, who was gradually feminized in China from the original Indian male God. In the development of Chinese symbolism, the Goddess of Mercy changes from a very realistic, beautiful young woman, whose portrayal is startlingly similar to Murillo's Madonnas, to a "thousand-armed" Goddess that borrows from Indian iconography in expressing her many attributes and areas of concern.

The many detailed descriptions of architecture include the Pagoda (inspired by the Indian Stupa), the stupendous temple caves chiseled out of the cliffs (some of which have been newly discovered), and the wooden and masonry temples built within compounds, with gardens and lawn between them, their roofs resting on pillars rather than walls so that the walls of the great halls can be easily moved to expand the space.

When one contemplates the great age of Chinese civilization, its dissemination of culture and art throughout the world for several millennia, the huge land mass of uncounted archeological art sites, and the staggering population of one billion people in the People's Republic of China, one is greatly surprised to find such paucity of scholarly books on Chinese Art compared to the multitude of books on Western and Near Eastern Art. One of several reasons given for the lack of books during much of the twentieth century was that the knowledge of the regional aspects of Chinese art was not proportionate to the enormous quantity of art objects of historical and archeological interest that had spread the fame of Chinese Art around the world. The great majority of Chinese art objects preserved in private and public collections are of unknown origin, some from clandestine excavations and chance finds, and others from purposely concealed sources.

This interdisciplinary, historical-aesthetic study of Chinese Buddhist Art and Architecture has been expressly written to increase the Western World's knowledge of the Chinese people, their history, religious beliefs, and extensive archeological art sites, some of which have been declared

"Cultural Treasures of the World" by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, and placed under its protection. Much of the information has been based on the writers' many trips around China, where they had numerous discussions with Chinese scholars and artists who have contributed to the study of Chinese Art, and shared their research results with them. For example, since 1996, Dr. Bao has traveled to China every summer as a visiting scholar to do research on Chinese Art and Culture. During his travels Dr. Bao has visited more than 120 Buddhist temples in 21 provinces, over 100 museums and galleries, and attended over 30 national level conferences. He has collected over 1,600 photos, and enough information to fill ten notebooks. This book is also deeply indebted to Dr. Tian, an internationally known scholar of Buddhist art, for his assistance and his profound knowledge of Chinese Buddhist Fine Art. Music and Architecture, as a director of the Institute of World Religious Art. China's Research Academy of Fine Art, Beijing.

With China's open door policy and economic reforms, there is hope that more opportunities for Western scholars and artists will be offered, and more and more conferences will be organized. In a world that has become a neighborhood within the span of a single lifetime, we all need to realize that the technology that has brought us within such easy reach of one another stands waiting in the wings, urging us to become better acquainted with each other, and to trade our centuries-old policies of war, confrontation and dominance to one of understanding, accommodation, and justice. To that end we hope that this book may make some lasting contribution.

EDO: ART IN JAPAN 1615-1868, by Robert T. Singer et al, ($100.00, hardcover, 480 pages, National Gallery of Art and Yale University Press, ISBN: 0300077963

This exceptionally well-designed and sumptuously illustrated book presents examples of Edo art in all media and across social boundaries, from paintings of nature and city life on goldleaf screens to woodblock images of kabuki actors and courtesans, from Zen paintings and calligraphy to spectacular helmets and armor for the samurai, and from brilliantly colored porcelains to textiles made for noh theater, kyogen comedy, and affluent women of the merchant class.

Works are grouped thematically into such areas as festivals, warrior arts, religious beliefs, travel, play, and work, and essays written by experts in the field address these various themes, placing the works in the context of the times. The book also provides entries on the individual objects reproduced. The volume will like the exhibition provide a lasting documentary account of this important era in Japanese art history. Highly recommended.

This beautiful book is the catalogue for a major exhibition of Edo art at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., from November 15, 1998 to February 15, 1999. EDO: ART IN JAPAN 1615-1868 the first comprehensive survey in the United States of Japanese art of the Edo period (1615-1868). Nearly 300 masterpieces including painted scrolls and screens, costumes, armor, sculpture, ceramics, lacquer, and woodblock prints from seventy-five Japanese collections, both public and private will reveal the vibrant culture of Edo. Forty-seven of these works have been designated National Treasures, Important Cultural Properties, or Important Art Objects by the government of Japan because of their rarity, historical significance, and artistic quality. Many of the works in the exhibition have never before left Japan. The volume is designed by the National Gallery of Art in collaboration with the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan, and The Japan Foundation. The exhibition was supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. All Nippon Airways has contributed essential in-kind support.

The Edo period was one of unprecedented peace and prosperity in Japan. The city of Edo (modern Tokyo) evolved from its beginnings as a castle town in the early 1600s into the largest city in the world in the eighteenth century, with one million inhabitants. In fact, the influence of the new capital was so pivotal that its name came to denote the culture of all Japan during this time. For the first time in centuries the country was unified under the hereditary Tokugawa shogun (feudal overlords), who with various daimyo (regional military lords) continued to patronize the traditional arts, while the rising merchant class developed a new urban culture and artistic traditions that crossed social boundaries.

The tone for the high style and buoyant spirit of the age is set at the beginning of the exhibition in "Edo Style," which defines the aesthetic of the period. Included are screens such as Sakai Huitsu’s Spring and Autumn Maples, a brilliantly colorful work never before publicly exhibited, even in Japan, and a pair of screens by Ito Jakucho depicting stone lanterns in a pointillist technique, a century before Seurat. Other goldleaf screens feature wind and thunder gods, while abstract cranes fly over the surface of gold lacquer boxes.

The "Samurai" section of EDO: ART IN JAPAN 1615-1868 highlight the peaceful arts created for the samurai class (the hereditary warrior class in feudal Japan) and masterpieces of their ceremonial armor. Included are spectacular helmets made of lacquer, decorated with giant rabbit ears or an upside-down rice bowl, and suits of armor with their bold geometric designs projecting power and authority. This section also includes the startlingly modern designs of Nabeshima porcelain made exclusively for the use of the daimyo and two ink paintings by the legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi, famed for his book Five Rings, which is admired today by many in the western corporate world.

"Work" includes images of various urban and rural occupations during the Edo period. Meticulously painted on goldleaf screens are crowded city scenes depicting every imaginable trade and craft, while lacquer boxes, kimono, screens, and prints display scenes of rice-farming and tea-growing. Four equally elaborate fireman’s coats are emblazoned with images of dragons, waves, tigers, and gods.

The "Religion" section of the exhibition illustrates how Buddhist and Shinto beliefs were reflected in the arts. Included are riveting images of fierce Zen masters and their explosive calligraphy, and gigantic screens by Hokusai, Shuhaku, and other artists who painted Buddhist subjects of great power and volatility. These screens, showing gods and sages subduing monsters and demons, differ greatly from the tranquil Buddhist paintings of pre-Edo times. Sinners boiling in foul liquids and lanced with spears are shown in images of Buddhist hell that were popular in Edo times, while a pair of seven-foot, totem-like statues by Enkqi illustrate the work of an eccentric itinerant sculptor of Buddhist images. A choice selection of festival screens depicts the boisterous and lavish festivities accompanying solemn rites in or near Shinto shrines. Humor is also included in this section with Sengai’s widely illustrated but rarely seen form in Zen Meditation, with its blissful smile.

"Travel and Landscape" focuses on the first appearance of group tourism in Japan religious pilgrimages to distant temples and shrines. The Edo period also saw the proliferation of paintings of specific sites of celebrated beauty, such as the blossoming cherry trees of Mt. Yoshino, as well as the new experimentation of several artists with Western perspective. The brilliant printmakers of the late Edo period, Hokusai and Hiroshige, respectively, produced the The Six Views of Mount Fuji and the Fifity-Three Stages of the Tokiyo, which were popular then and are now famous the world over.

"Entertainment" themes appear often in Edo period art as social barriers were relaxed in the theater and pleasure quarters and members of all classes freely intermingled. The newly wealthy merchant class commissioned paintings and prints of actors and geisha dressed in current fashions, while the artist Sharaku invented a new style of close-up actor prints. Also included in this section are noh and kabuki costumes with bold designs embroidered in gold-wrapped threads.

DHARMA ART by Chgyam Trungpa, edited by Judith Lief ($17.00, paper, 192 pages, illustration by author and photography, Size: 8-1/8” by 9-1/4” Shambhala, Dharma Ocean Series, ISBN 1-57062-136-5)

The late Chgyam Trungpa was a pioneer of bringing Tibetan Buddhism to the West and the founder of the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, among groups devoted to meditation. The term “Dharma art” refers to creative works that derive from the alert meditative state, marked by immediacy, spontaneity, and harmlessness. Trungpa Rinpoche exhibits the spirit of dharma art. It is a means to enjoy the nature of things as they are and express it without undue effort or excessive desire for recognition.
Artwork by the author features twenty black-and-white illustrations including photographs, paintings, calligraphies, and flower arrangements.

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