Buddhist Icons in Japan
Tuesday | Thursday: 2:00 - 3:30pm
This course introduces the study of Buddhist icons in Japan within broader visual cultures in Asia. We will consider exemplary and unusual images of the Buddha and other deities; miraculous and secret icons; relics and icono-texts; and art historical praxis. What are we to make, for instance, of legends that claim that the first image of the Buddha Śākyamuni (J. Shakamuni), carved during his lifetime in South Asia, resides in Japan? What about speaking and moving statues? Why are sculptures “stuffed” with texts and other items? How is Buddhist soteriology expressed in visual-material objects? How should we think about the body and Buddhist iconicity. What benefits accrue to practitioners who encounter, view, and make offerings to icons? What drives the replication of particular iconic forms; why might deities shape/identity-shift? What is the “modern gaze,” and how does it change what we see when we look at Buddhist icons? How do photography and the museum transform icons into art?
This course fulfills the following Major requirements: Geographical area (B), and Chronological period (II) or (III), based on the topic of the final research paper or project.