Representation of the Human Figure Essay

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The Vairocana Buddha on the back wall has a Bodhisattva to his left wearing a crown and pearls. Bodhisattvas were still 'of the world,' beings in Mahayana Buddhism who temporarily did not seek Enlightenment to bring Enlightenment to the rest of the world. On his other side, a "divine general treads an evil spirit underfoot" ("Sacred Destinations," Longmen Caves, 2010). The combined images of the most spiritual and enlightened of all manifestations of the Buddha, a spiritual deity still striving to Enlighten those in the world, and national symbolism illustrate how Buddhism was not seen as innately contradictory with the aims of the nation-state.

Sources:

"Longmen Caves." Sacred Destinations. March 1, 2010.

http://www.sacred-destinations.com/china/longmen-caves

O'Brien, Barbara. "The Five Dhyani Buddhas: Vairocana Buddha" About.com.

http://buddhism.about.com/od/thetriyaka/ig/Five-Dhyani-Buddhas/Vairocana-Buddha.htm

Category D

Summarize the history of the porcelain traditions in China from the Yuan to the present. Give examples.

The Yuan Dynasty saw the development of what is now thought of as 'traditional' white and blue Chinese porcelain. Blue decoration came to be painted onto the body of the porcelain before glazing, probably beginning with the Tang dynasty, to give the work a more refined appearance. However, some different colors were manifest, even during the Yuan period: a Yuan funerary urn has been excavated, decorated with underglaze blue and underglaze red, dated around 1338 ("Chinese Porcelain," All About China, 2010).

During the Ming Dynasty, and during the Chenghua period, doucai porcelain combining underglaze and overglaze colors became more popular. "Blue pigment was used to outline the designs on the raw clay, which was then coated with white glaze, placed in the kiln and fired at a high temperature. The next step was to paint designs within the blue-and-white outline. The piece was then fired again. Multiple layers of color on porcelain vessels 'contended for beauty', hence the name doucai (contending colors)" ("Porcelain," Chinese Culture online, 2010). Finally, the Qing dynasty oversaw the perfection of the blue-and-white porcelain technique and "painted on porcelain vessels during this period were landscapes, human figures, flowers and birds" of artistry equal to that of paintings (Porcelain, Chinese Culture online, 2010). This detailed style would later be copied by Europeans and also used as a template for some of the manufactured images produced by industrialized Chinese porcelain in modernity.

Sources:

"Chinese Porcelain." All About China. March 2, 2010.

http://www.chinadetail.com/Culture/ArtsCraftsChinesePorcelain.php

"Porcelain." Chinese Culture Online. March 2, 2010.

http://www.chinesecultureonline.org/arts.jsp?catName=pottery_porcelain&centerName=porcelain

Category E

Compare and contrast Shinto and Buddhist architecture in Japan. Cite specific examples to support your answer.

Shintoism is a kind of Japanese nature-worship, or worship of the spirits within aspects of the natural world. The design of Shinto shrines grows organically from the natural world of the landscape, rather than by planned architectural design. "Two major styles for the main hall consist of a temporary main hall and one that has a simple shape derived from the granaries and storehouses of ancient Japan. The temporary main hall is one that was built for special occasions to house the kami [sprits]. An example of this type of temporary structure is the Sumiyoshi Shrine in Osaka. An example of one with a simple shape, is the Ise Shrine in Mie Prefecture. The sun goddess, Amaterasu Omikami, has its own consecrated area in the inner shrine and the grain goddess, Toyouki no Omikami dedicated to the outer shrine" ("Japanese architecture," Asian Info, 2010).

Shinto is an indigenous Japanese religion. Buddhism was imported from Japan, and thus many Chinese and Indian influences are manifest in Buddhist temple design. Buddhist temples have a planned quality, in contrast to Shinto shrines. Some Buddhist temples are quite large, and contain physical representations of Bodhisattvas and other deities, although Shinto shrines are also populated with images and sculptures for visitors to worship. Buddhist temples may have Chinese-style pagodas and sculpted, rather than naturalistic gardens to provide a focus point for meditation. "The dry stone gardens of Zen temples such as Kyoto's Ryoan-ji, Daisen-in and the magnificent Ginkakuji (the Silver Pavilion) represent this art in its purest, most enigmatic form' ("Temples and Shrines," Japan Culture, 2010).

Sources:

"Japanese architecture." Asian Info. March 2, 2010.

http://www.asianinfo.org/asianinfo/japan/architecture.htm

"Temples and Shrines." Japan Culture. March 2, 2010.

http://www.japanvisitor.com/index.php?cID=359&pID=350[continue]

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