This annotated visual tour features over 100 photos from China’s Mt. Tiāntái region, the home of Tiāntái Buddhism (originated late 6th century). Tiāntái is the first Chinese school to break significantly from the Indian tradition and therefore represents China’s earliest indigenous Buddhist system of thought. The Tiāntái school also became the foundation of important Buddhist schools in Korea and Japan. The slideshow’s cast of characters includes the Door Gods Ha (the Blower) and Heng (the Snorter), Vedic Sea Monsters, Rooftop Beasts, Four Heavenly Kings, Perfected Saints, Folk Gods, a Booze-Guzzling Drunk Monk, a Pot-Bellied Gate Guardian Serving as Lord of the Dinning Hall, a Carp Transforming into a Dragon, Magical Lions, and more. This cast of characters is found in myriad Chinese temples and thus serves as a microcosm of modern-day Chinese Buddhist artwork and faith. This slideshow is intended as a “primer” for students and teachers of Chinese Buddhist art and folklore. There are two versions.
YAKUSHI NYORAI (Buddha of Medicine and Healing). This 18-page report features over 50 photos and numerous manifestations of Yakushi in Japan, including Yakushi’s role in curing life-threatening illnesses and eye ailments, and in granting “this-worldly” benefits. The devotional cult of Yakushi was one of the first to develop in Japan after Buddhism’s introduction to the Japanese archipelago in the mid-sixth century. Concrete evidence of Yakushi’s worship on Japanese soil dates from the late seventh century. This report relies heavily on the research of scholar Yui Suzuki, an associate professor at the University of Maryland. This primer also includes five side pages that explore Yakushi’s twelve vows while still a bodhisattva as well as Yakushi’s twelve warrior generals (Jūni Shinshō) and two attendants (Nikkō & Gakkō). Enjoy.
Yakushi Nyorai, the Buddha of Medicine and Healing
VIDEO. Length = 5.44 minutes. 15th-16th century Niō statues on the world art market. Join Mark Schumacher as he explores the iconography of the Niō guardians at Tōdaiji Temple, Nara, Japan. Promotional video for the auction of a Muromachi-period set of Niō temple guardians that are modeled/styled after the famous Niō pair at Tōdaiji Temple. The auction site is here.
Cutified modern drawing of the Seven Luckies. Click image to get started.
Japan’s Seven Lucky Gods (Shichifukujin 七福神) are an eclectic group of deities from Japan, India, and China. Only one is native to Japan (Ebisu). Three are deva from India’s Hindu pantheon (Benzaiten, Bishamonten, Daikokuten) and three are gods from China’s Taoist-Buddhist traditions (Hotei, Jurōjin, Fukurokuju). In my mind, it is more fruitful to explore the seven within a Deva-Buddha-Kami (Hindu-Buddhist-Shintō) matrix rather than a standard binary Buddha-Kami model. For that reason, special emphasis is given to the three Hindu deva. Although the group’s Japanese origin can be traced back to the 15th century, the set of seven did not become stadardized until the late 17th century. By the 19th century, most major cities had developed special pilgrimage circuits for the seven. These pilgrimages remain well trodden in contemporary times, but many people now use cars, buses, and trains to move between the sites. Today images of the seven appear with great frequency in Japanese art and media, but unlike olden times, the seven are now often portrayed as cute, lovable and childlike. The “cutification” of religious icons in modern Japan is widespread and part of a much larger social trend toward cuteness in billboard advertising, corporate branding, sports mascots, street fashion, product design, and a host of other areas. This integrated primer explores the seven’s historical development in Japanese art and lore. Enjoy. Popcorn not included.
INTRO Page. Explores their development in art and lore. 50 photos. 16 pages.
Ebisu. Only Japanese god in the group. 16 photos. 5 pages.