Buddhist Icons in Japan
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; iconotexts and relics; and art historical praxis. What are we to make, for instance, of legends that claim that the first image of the Buddha Śākyamuni 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 are Buddhist teachings represented, and 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? There is no pre-requisite for this class (such as HA134A), but you should be prepared to read, think, and write at an advanced level.