The third part dealing with Central Asia is indeed rich as some of the materials have been presented in English for the first time. The extensive description of the Bamiyan caves includes the studies of the two expeditions of the Nagoya and Kyoto universities. The numbering of all the caves at Bamiyan have been referred to. The Buddhist remains on the southern and northern routes of Chinese Turkistan comprise stupas, caves and monasteries. The details of the Qyzil caves from Grunwedel are welcome as they have been inaccessible ever since he wrote his report in German. Prof. Yamamoto has done a service to students of Buddhist art by presenting the salient features of the researches of Chinese scholars on caves in China published in the Heibonsha series in Japanese.
The fourth part is a Buddhist art in China. Beginning with the Yunkang caves he describes the major developments of Buddhist art in China. The Tunhuang caves incorporate new researches by Chinese scholars published in Heibonsha's Tonko-bakokutsu. These have been presented in English for the first time. Prof. Yamamoto breaks new ground in pointing out the emergence and development of the Gupta-Tang style. His presentation of rare researches in French, German and Japanese in an overall view of Buddhist art is supplemented by his life-long studies of the subject. He also covers new cave -complexes which have been discovered in China since the 1950s and these add to the usefulness of this survey of Buddhist art. An excursus on one of these newly discovered grottos namely ping-ling-ssu (now written Binglingsi) from the Heibonsha volume will highlight the rich fare of artistic heritage that awaits wider circulation in English so that inter-disciplinary and inter- regional comparative studies can culation in English so that Inter- disciplinary and inter-regional comparative studies can be taken up.
THE BINGLINGSI CAVES were discovered in 1953 and the news reached Japan the same year. It was a great excitement for all experts of Buddhist art. In 1986 the Japanese published a preliminary report. The Chinese Government sent a survey team from July to August 1953. The Chinese monk Eko (497-554), in his Biographies of Eminent Monks, says that Shaku Genko practiced meditation in these caves with his disciples.Suikyochu written by Dogen (469-527) also refers to the Binglingsi caves. The work Hoenjurin mentions that caves were excavated in the mountain during his time, which means 668 A.D. and a number of monks were practising there. The existence of these caves was known to the world only through literary references until 1953. Restoration of the caves has been going on ever since their discovery. Staircases have been constructed for access to the caves. In 1953 a second survey of cave 169 was done. It has the oldest Buddhist sculptures of the Western Chin dynasty. It is in the highest part of the mountain and its survey was really a hazardous undertaking.
The Binglingsi is situated alongside the Yellow River along the Northern Valley in Mount Shoshakuseki. They are famous as stone cave temples. These caves can be divided into upper and lower groups, with a number of natural caves in between. The total number of caves is 196. Majority is concentrated in the lower level, which comprise 184 caves, among them 40 are caves and 144 are niches. The lower group has 694 big and small stone sculptures and 82 stucco images. The horizontal length of the wall paintings reaches 912 square meters. The highest standing sculpture is 27 meters high, and the smallest is 0.20 meters. The lower group is situated along the straight wall of the valley of the western Daijiko, which is surrounded by high and steep Rocky Mountains. In front of the caves runs the Yellow River. It presents a spectacular panorama.
Achievements of Binglingsi during the Western Chin (p.213). The sculptures in Cave 169 tell us the general situation of Western Chin art. If we compare them with sculptures in Gandhara, Central Asia and China, then we can know the traditions of Buddhist art in China at that early age, and the actual development of varying characteristics at different places. The sitting Buddhist statues of Cave 169 wear robes over both shoulders are in padmasana and in dhyana mudra except one stucco statue, which is inscribed in the first year of the Kengu era, wears a robe on the left shoulder while the right shoulder is bare. The artists at Qyzil were more inclined to express spiritual joy and blissful fulfillment. Artists at Ryoshu and Western Chin seek both serenity and bliss in a form to manifest accomplishment of wisdom in meditation and joyfulness to be demonstrated in vast compassion. Expressions of the Buddhas in meditation and the naturalness of their transparent robs demonstrate excellence of artistic quality. If we compare them with bronze Buddhas that appeared during the same period the distinct accomplishment of the stone sculptors can be recognized. Bronze statues are still in the condition of imitation but stucco and stone sculptures have made quite a progress. This fact should be noticed.
The statue made in the first year of Kengu is Amitabha Buddha (pl. 21) with a high usnisa half closed eyes and the hands in dhyana mudra. It depicts the attainment of Buddhahood by bhiksu Dharmagarbha. The expression of the face is dignified and distinct from other Buddha- statues that means: the artists at that time had understood differing qualities of the various materials and at the same time the artists sought expression in accord with their raw material. Artists have to describe the Supreme Buddhas actualizing their state for the visualization by the devotee. We can find similarities between this statue made in the first year of kengu and the earlier ones, which also have the left shoulder bare, found in Caves 77, 78 of Mount Bakushaku. These are bigger in scale are forceful in spiritual grandeur. The statues at Yun-kang caves developed these aspects.
From the Jacket
This book is a panoramic survey of the history of Buddhist art from its origins in India to its final efflorescence in Japan. Prof. Chikyo Yamamoto gives the main outline of its evolution in India, SriLanka, Indonesia, Kambuja, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, Afghanistan, Chinese Turkistan, China, Korea and Japan. Beginning with the Asokan pillars with their intact capitals and Sanci, it covers all the major Buddhist monuments of India. The techniques of the early Gandhara School have been described at length for all parts of the body. The author presents in a succinct manner his own observations of a life time study of the Gandhara school in the early period when it was mostly stone sculpture and in the later period when it was mostly stone sculpture and in the latter period when it was dominantly stucco images. Character on the Gupta period is of special significance as the Gupta idiom had a wide ranging influenced on the Buddhist art of the whole of Asia. The diffusion of the Buddha statues of Sarnath to South East Asia takes us to the second part dealing with further Asia.
The fourth part is a history of Buddhist art in China. Beginning with the Yun-kang caves he describes its major developments. The Tun-huang caves incorporate new researches by Chinese scholars published in Heibonsha'sTonko bakkokutsu. These have been presented in English for the first time. Prof. Yamamoto breaks new ground in pointing out of the emergence and development of the Gupta- Tang style. He also covers new cave complexes which have been discovered in China since the 1950s and these add to the usefulness of this survey of Buddhist art.
The final Fifth part surveys the Buddhist art of Korea and Japan in its overall development in East Asia. His presentation of rare researches in French German and Japanese is supplemented by his life long studies of the subject.
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