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Icons and Iconoclasm in Japanese BuddhismKukai and Dogen on the Art of Enlightenment$
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Pamela D. Winfield

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199753581

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199753581.001.0001

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(p.xv) Introduction
Icons and Iconoclasm in Japanese Buddhism

Pamela D. Winfield

Oxford University Press

This chapter introduces readers to the problem of the visual, not only in the contemporary period but also in the premodern era when Buddhism flourished throughout the pan-Asian sphere. It provides a cursory overview of the key historical developments in Buddhist art and doctrine. It mentions the so-called an-iconic stage of Theravadin nonfigural art of early classical Indian Buddhism (fifth century BCE onward) and the early Mahāyāna figural depictions of embodied enlightenment beginning in the early centuries CE. It then chronicles the explosion of elaborate esoteric Vajrayāna (Mikkyō) iconography beginning in the seventh century CE, and the contrasting minimalistic spirit of Zen Buddhist artistic expression in China and Japan in the tenth century onward. It then outlines the content of each chapter in the book to follow.

Keywords:   Buddhist art history, Theravada art, Mahāyāna art, esoteric Buddhist art, Zen art, Vajrayāna, Mikkyō, samsara, nirvana, an-iconism, iconography, satori

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