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Flowing Traces

Buddhism in the Literary and Visual Arts of Japan

James H. Sanford

According to the contributors to this volume, the relationship of Buddhism and the arts in Japan is less the rendering of Buddhist philosophical ideas through artistic imagery than it is the development of concepts and expressions in a virtually inseparable unity. By challenging those who consider religion to be the primary phenomenon and art the secondary arena for the apprehension of religious meanings, these essays reveal the collapse of other dichotomies as well. Touching on works produced at every social level, they explore a fascinating set of connections within Japanese culture and move to re-envision such usual distinctions as religion and art, sacred and secular, Buddhism and Shinto, theory and substance, elite and popular, and even audience and artist. The essays range from visual and literary hagiographies to No drama, to Sermon-Ballads, to a painting of the Nirvana of Vegetables. The contributors to the volume are James H. Foard, Elizabeth ten Grotenhuis, Frank Hoff, Laura S. Kaufman, William R. LaFleur, Susan Matisoff, Barbara Ruch, Yoshiaki Shimizu, and Royall Tyler.

Originally published in 1992.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Gendered Bodies

Toward a Women's Visual Art in Contemporary China

Shuqin Cui

Gendered Bodies introduces readers to women's visual art in contemporary China by examining how the visual process of gendering reshapes understandings of historiography, sexuality, pain, and space. When artists take the body as the subject of female experience and the medium of aesthetic experiment, they reveal a wealth of noncanonical approaches to art. The insertion of women's narratives into Chinese art history rewrites a historiography that has denied legitimacy to the woman artist. The gendering of sexuality reveals that the female body incites pleasure in women themselves, reversing the dynamic from woman as desired object to woman as desiring subject. The gendering of pain demonstrates that for those haunted by the sociopolitical past, the body can articulate traumatic memories and psychological torment. The gendering of space transforms the female body into an emblem of landscape devastation, remaps ruin aesthetics, and extends the politics of gender identity into cyberspace and virtual reality.

The work presents a critical review of women's art in contemporary China in relation to art traditions, classical and contemporary. Inscribing the female body into art generates not only visual experimentation, but also interaction between local art/cultural production and global perception. While artists may seek inspiration and exhibition space abroad, they often reject the (Western) label "feminist artist." An extensive analysis of artworks and artists—both well- and little-known—provides readers with discursively persuasive and visually provocative evidence. Gendered Bodies follows an interdisciplinary approach that general readers as well as scholars will find inspired and inspiring.

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Glorify the Empire

Japanese Avant-Garde Propaganda in Manchukuo

Annika A. Culver

In the 1930s and '40s, Japanese rulers in Manchukuo enlisted writers and artists to promote imperial Japan's modernization program. Ironically, the cultural producers chosen to spread the imperialist message were previously left-wing politically. In Glorify the Empire, Annika A. Culver explores how these once anti-imperialist intellectuals produced avant-garde works celebrating the modernity of a fascist state and reflecting a complicated picture of complicity with, and ambivalence toward, Japan's utopian project. A groundbreaking work, this book magnifies the intersection between politics and art in a rarely examined period of Japanese history.

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God Pictures in Korean Contexts

The Ownership and Meaning of Shaman Paintings

Laurel Kendall, Jongsung Yang, Yul Soo Yoon

Shamans walking on knives, fairies riding on clouds, kings with dragon mounts: They are gods and they are paper images. Some are repulsed and unsettled by shaman paintings, some cannot stop collecting them, and some use them as sites of veneration. Laurel Kendall, Jongsung Yang, and Yul Soo Yoon explore what it is that makes a Korean shaman painting magical or sacred. How does a picture carry the trace of a god and can it ever be “just a painting” again? How have shaman paintings been revalued as art? Do artfulness and magic ever intersect? Does it matter, as a matter of market value, that the painting was once a sacred thing? Navigating the journey shaman paintings make from painters’ studios to shaman shrines to private collections and museums, the three authors deftly traverse the borderland between scholarly interests in the material dimension of religious practice and the circulation of art.

Illustrated with sixty images in color and black and white, the book offers a new vantage point on “the social life of things.” This is not a story of a collecting West and a disposing rest; the primary collectors and commentators on Korean shaman paintings are South Koreans re-imagining their own past in light of their own modernist sensibility. It is a tale told with an awareness of both recent South Korean history and the problematic question of how the paintings are understood by different South Korean actors, most particularly the shamans and collectors who share a common language and sometimes meet face-to-face.

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Handmade Culture

Raku Potters, Patrons, and Tea Practitioners in Japan

Morgan Pitelka

Handmade Culture is the first comprehensive and cohesive study in any language to examine Raku, one of Japan’s most famous arts and a pottery technique practiced around the world. More than a history of ceramics, this innovative work considers four centuries of cultural invention and reinvention during times of both political stasis and socioeconomic upheaval. It combines scholarly erudition with an accessible story through its lively and lucid prose and its generous illustrations. The author’s own experiences as the son of a professional potter and a historian inform his unique interdisciplinary approach, manifested particularly in his sensitivity to both technical ceramic issues and theoretical historical concerns. Handmade Culture makes ample use of archaeological evidence, heirloom ceramics, tea diaries, letters, woodblock prints, and gazetteers and other publications to narrate the compelling history of Raku, a fresh approach that sheds light not only on an important traditional art from Japan, but on the study of cultural history itself.

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Heian Japan, Centers and Peripheries

edited by Mikael S. Adolphson, Edward Kamens, and Stacie Matsumoto

The first three centuries of the Heian period (794–1086) saw some of its most fertile innovations and epochal achievements in Japanese literature and the arts. It was also a time of important transitions in the spheres of religion and politics, as aristocratic authority was consolidated in Kyoto, powerful court factions and religious institutions emerged, and adjustments were made in the Chinese-style system of ruler-ship. At the same time, the era’s leaders faced serious challenges from the provinces that called into question the primacy and efficiency of the governmental system and tested the social/cultural status quo. Heian Japan, Centers and Peripheries, the first book of its kind to examine the early Heian from a wide variety of multidisciplinary perspectives, offers a fresh look at these seemingly contradictory trends. Essays by fourteen leading American, European, and Japanese scholars of art history, history, literature, and religions take up core texts and iconic images, cultural achievements and social crises, and the ever-fascinating patterns and puzzles of the time. The authors tackle some of Heian Japan’s most enduring paradigms as well as hitherto unexplored problems in search of new ways of understanding the currents of change as well as the processes of institutionalization that shaped the Heian scene, defined the contours of its legacies, and make it one of the most intensely studied periods of the Japanese past.

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Hokusai's Great Wave

Biography of a Global Icon

Christine M. E. Guth

Hokusai’s “Great Wave,” as it is commonly known today, is arguably one of Japan’s most successful exports, its commanding cresting profile instantly recognizable no matter how different its representations in media and style. In this richly illustrated and highly original study, Guth examines the iconic wave from its first publication in 1831 through the remarkable range of its articulations, arguing that it has been a site where the tensions, contradictions, and, especially, the productive creativities of the local and the global have been negotiated and expressed. She follows the wave’s trajectory across geographies, linking its movements with larger political, economic, technological, and sociocultural developments. Adopting a case study approach, Guth explores issues that map the social life of the iconic wave across time and place, from the initial reception of the woodblock print in Japan, to the image’s adaptations as part of “international nationalism,” its place in American perceptions of Japan, its commercial adoption for lifestyle branding, and finally to its identification as a tsunami, bringing not culture but disaster in its wake.

Wide ranging in scope yet grounded in close readings of disparate iterations of the wave, multidisciplinary and theoretically informed in its approach, Hokusai’s Great Wave will change both how we look at this global icon and the way we study the circulation of Japanese prints. This accessible and engagingly written work moves beyond the standard hagiographical approach to recognize, as categories of analysis, historical and geographic contingency as well as visual and technical brilliance. It is a book that will interest students of Japan and its culture and more generally those seeking fresh perspectives on the dynamics of cultural globalization.

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Image Problems

The Origin and Development of the Buddha's Image in Early South Asia

by Robert DeCaroli

This deft and lively study by Robert DeCaroli explores the questions of how and why the earliest verifiable images of the historical Buddha were created. In so doing, DeCaroli steps away from old questions of where and when to present the history of Buddhism’s relationship with figural art as an ongoing set of negotiations within the Buddhist community and in society at large. By comparing innovations in Brahmanical, Jain, and royal artistic practice, DeCaroli examines why no image of the Buddha was made until approximately five hundred years after his death and what changed in the centuries surrounding the start of the Common Era to suddenly make those images desirable and acceptable. The textual and archaeological sources reveal that figural likenesses held special importance in South Asia and were seen as having a significant amount of agency and power. Anxiety over image use extended well beyond the Buddhists, helping to explain why images of Vedic gods, Jain teachers, and political elites also are absent from the material record of the centuries BCE. DeCaroli shows how the emergence of powerful dynasties and rulers, who benefited from novel modes of visual authority, was at the root of the changes in attitude toward figural images. However, as DeCaroli demonstrates, a strain of unease with figural art persisted, even after a tradition of images of the Buddha had become established.

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Images in Asian Religions

Text and Contexts

Phyllis Granoff

This collection offers a challenge to any simple understanding of the role of images by looking at aspects of the reception of image worship that have only begun to be studied, including the many hesitations that Asian religious traditions expressed about image worship. Written by eminent scholars of anthropology, art history, and religion with interests in different regions (India, China, Japan, and Southeast Asia), this volume takes a fresh look at the many ways in which images were defined and received in Asian religions.

Buddha Dharma Kyokai Foundation Book on Buddhism and Comparative Religion

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Images of the Canton Factories 1760–1822

Reading History in Art

Paul A. Van Dyke and Maria Kar-wing Mok

Hundreds of Chinese export paintings of Canton trading houses and shopping streets are in museums and private collections throughout the world, and scholars of art and history have often questioned the reliability of these historical paintings. In this illustrated volume, Paul Van Dyke and Maria Mok examine these Chinese export paintings by matching the changes in the images with new historical data collected from various archives. Many factory paintings are reliable historical records in their own right and can be dated to a single year. Dating images with such precision was not possible in the past owing to insufficient information on the scenes. The new findings in this volume provide unprecedented opportunities to re-date many art works and prove that images of the Canton factories painted on canvas by Chinese artists are far more trustworthy than what scholars have believed in the past.

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