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With its oval face, elongated arms and fingers, and carefully chiseled drapery, this wood-carved and gilded Buddha image from Burma is characteristic of a style that developed in Mandalay in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Gilding of Buddha images, also considered a meritorious act, is applied using lacquer made from tree sap, which is sometimes mixed with a red pigment made from cinnabar. Lacquer is also used to sculpt the curls of the Buddha’s hair and his ushnisha (a cranial protuberance signifying his status as an enlightened being), and as a mortar for the intricately designed inlaid glass decorating his headband and the borders of his robes.
Great Buddha of Kamakura. (1252 A.D.) Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.
This serene bronze statue of the Buddha is the second tallest in Japan. Although it was once surrounded by temple walls, the Amida Buddha now stands alone on the grounds of the Kotokuin Temple.
White and Red Plum Blossoms. Ogata Korin, Edo period, Shizuoaka-ken, Japan.
This lovely two-part piece combines dual perspectives, contrary to most Western art at the time; while the blossoming trees are seen frontally from eye-level, the stream appears as if one is looking down upon it. The painting is not meant to be accurate, necessarily- the ripples in the river do not look realistic, and the lack of shadows and depth give it a pleasant, two-dimensional feel. The sharp branches contrast with the soft, sinuous curves of the stream. It is a beautiful piece of work, combining colored inks and gold leaf on paper on two separate screens. It is dated around the early 1700’s.
Amida Descending over the Mountains. Kamakura period (13th century). Kyoto, Japan.
During the Kamakura period in Japan, Buddhism was an extremely important part of life, due in part because of the evangelical Buddhist monks who spread their faith to many, including the lower classes. Pure Land Buddhism branched off a little from the main religion, stressing the salvation found in Amida, who would guarantee safety at a person’s death.
Although this newer sect was open to the peasant classes as well as the wealthy, many upper-class patrons commissioned art in Amida’s name. Here, Amida is attended by two bodhisattvas, who have already made the journey to the Pure Land. The halo behind Amida’s head looks like a rising moon, which was considered a powerful icon of spirituality in Japan.
Ando Hiroshige, View of Mount Fuji from Satta Point in the Suruga Bay, c. 1859
Leshan Giant Buddha, Leshan, China
Utagawa Kunisada, Meeting by Moonlight
Rani Rudrama Devi (1259 to 1289 AD) was one of the most prominent rulers of the Kakatiya dynasty on the Deccan Plateau, being one of the few ruling queens in Indian history. She ruled at Warangal, the capital of Kakateeya Dynasty that had sway over entire Telangana (present-day Andhra Pradesh state) and most of the Andhra provinces during 13th century.
A lady being made a king of vast Empire was no doubt resented by some nobles and her cousins who later raised banner of revolt. Even Veera Bhadra (her husband) also was jealous of Rudrmadevi ruling the land. She wore male attire and sat on the throne and with iron hand ruled the kingdom keeping the enemies at bay.
Rudrama Devi was one of the most outstanding queens in Indian History from Kakateeya dynasty and people still cherish her memories. Her gender did not come on her way in discharging the duties of her exalted office. She took an active part in governing the country and strove hard to promote the best interests of the state. In spite of the wars which frequently disturbed the country, her people remained contented and happy under her rule. (x)
Rabindranath Tagore. Untitled (Striding bird), 1928. Collection of Rabindra Bhavana
Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941), a transformative figure in the modern cultural history of India, is remembered as a poet, playwright, musician, and philosopher, and is also recognized around the world as the first non-European recipient of a Nobel Prize for literature in 1913. This striking image was included in an Asia Society exhibition in 2011.
The Courtesan Sugawara of the Tsuraya Dreaming, Isoda Koryusai (1778).
Art about dreams and the subconscious often reveal truths to artists that cannot be accessed through the conscious self. In Asian art especially, the Buddhist themes of enlightenment often overlap with the dream world, as shown here. Dreams are inferred through paintings of people sleeping, particularly in Japanese art.