Arts of the Buddhist World

2862:
Discipline: Art History
Instructor: Maki
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1540
End: 1655
Field Work: Day 1 | Japan
Prerequisites: None, though some experience with Asian religion or visual culture may be helpful Download Syllabus

Beginning with the life of the Buddha, this course will explore how Buddhist art developed in India and was adopted and adapted by the cultures of China, Japan, and Southeast Asia. We will examine the intersections between Buddhist doctrine, art, and architecture through extensive and close analysis of visual forms and materials. We will also explore the use of Buddhist art and architecture to legitimize political, social, and cultural power.

Field Work

Country: Japan
Day: 1

The Kamakura period of Japanese history (12th-14th centuries) gave rise to a revival of Buddhist arts and architecture.  To better understand ritual space and the function of art within a Japanese temple environment, we will explore a variety of local Buddhist temples in and around Kamakura. In addition, we will visit the famed monumental sculpture of the Buddha Amida (Kamakura Daibutsu). Our visit has three key objectives: learning to identify the visual cues that distinguish the arts of Mahayana Buddhism and the Pure Land and Zen traditions, to better understand the construction of ritual space, both in its architecture and also the contents of the temples, and to recognize and explain artistic styles and themes found in these sites at Kamakura. These first-hand encounters will help us better understand the scale, scope and meanings of ritual space in Japanese Buddhism, and to more clearly discern characteristics of Japanese Buddhist art and architecture that flourished during this vibrant era. Academic Objectives:
  1. Identify the visual cues that distinguish the arts of Mahayana Buddhism and the Pure Land and Zen traditions
  2. Understand the construction of ritual space, both in its architecture and also the contents of the temples
  3. Explain and recognize the artistic style of Japan