Vegetarian Ideal

Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.
- Albert Einstein

Saturday, December 10, 2011

China and Buddhism


Mid-Tang period (713-765) Buddha from Dunhuang

                                                   Height: 218 cm (7 ft 2 in)   

It is widely believed that Buddhism was introduced to China during the Han period (206 BC-220 AD). After its introduction, Mahayana Buddhism, the most prominent branch of Buddhism in China, played an important role in shaping Chinese civilization. Chinese civilization, as well, exerted a profound impact on the way Buddhism was transformed in China.
The influence of Buddhism grew to such an extent that vast amounts of financial and human resources were expended on the creation and establishment of impressive works of art and elaborate temples. This growing interest in Buddhism helped to inspire new ways of depicting deities, new types of architectural spaces in which to worship them, and new ritual motions and actions. In this section, we will look at Six Dynasties and Tang Chinese Buddhist images, view some early and late Buddhist temples, then take a glimpse at contemporary Buddhist practice.
Think about the following questions as you view this unit:
How were Buddhist images, temples, and practices adapted to Chinese circumstances? Keep in mind both chronological order and geographical variation wherever possible.
What connections do you see between Buddhist doctrines and the physical trappings of Buddhism in China?
Do you see anything in these images that would have contributed to the spread of Buddhism in China?

Caswell, James O. Written and Unwritten: A New History of the Buddhist Caves at Yungang.Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1988.
Faure, Bernard. Buddhism. Translated by Sean Konecky. New York: Konecky & Konecky, 1998.
Gernet, Jacques. Buddhism in Chinese History: an Economic History from the 5th to the 10thCenturies. Translated by Franciscus Verellen. New York: Columbia University Press, 1995.
Seckel, Dietrich. Buddhist Art of East Asia. Translated by Ulrich Mammitzsch. Bellingham, WA: Western Washington University Press, 1989.
Weinstein, Stanley. Buddhism Under the Tang. Cambridge, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
Wright, Arthur F. Buddhism in Chinese History. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1971.
Zürcher, Erik. The Buddhist Conquest of China. Leiden: Brill, 1972.


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