Some Iconographic Problems in Early Daoist-Buddhist Sculptures in China

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<ul><li><p>Some Iconographic Problems in Early Daoist-Buddhist Sculptures in ChinaAuthor(s): Jean M. JamesSource: Archives of Asian Art, Vol. 42 (1989), pp. 71-76Published by: University of Hawai'i Press for the Asia SocietyStable URL: .Accessed: 13/06/2014 08:58</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact</p><p> .</p><p>University of Hawai'i Press and Asia Society are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extendaccess to Archives of Asian Art.</p><p> </p><p>This content downloaded from on Fri, 13 Jun 2014 08:58:01 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>Brief Notices </p><p>Some Iconographie Problems in Early Daoist Buddhist Sculptures in China </p><p>Jean M. James The University of Iowa </p><p>In an article published in 1984 Ding Mingy i noted that the </p><p>question of the origin of Daoist images, whether products of </p><p>the interaction between Buddhist and Daoist texts or those of </p><p>the influence of Buddhist images on Daoist types, was well </p><p>worth studying. In a subsequent article Ding did investigate this question and produced a chronology of images and their </p><p>iconographie attributes. But he left the problem of origin un </p><p>solved. Wu Hung, however, writing in Artibus Asiae, has of </p><p>fered a solution stating that Daoists used Buddhist iconog </p><p>raphy, adapting it to their own purposes when cutting the large </p><p>figures carved in cliffs at Kongwangshana in Jiangsu, dated to </p><p>the second and third centuries a.d. Therefore these early rock </p><p>carvings are not in fact Buddhist images but are early Daoist </p><p>images that also point to one of the ways in which "the Chinese </p><p>received Buddhism?the incorporation of Buddhist elements </p><p>by Taoist [sic] art. " </p><p>The process of intermingling Buddhist </p><p>iconographie elements with indigenous Chinese motifs as </p><p>sociated with Chinese deities, especially Xiwangmu,b began even earlier and is evident in Eastern Han (a.d. 25-220) arti </p><p>facts and monuments of the second century.1 There are, then, </p><p>ample precedents for the sort of intermingling and conflation </p><p>of Buddhist and Daoist imagery we see in the later votive </p><p>sculptures and stelae dedicated by laymen during and after the </p><p>fifth century. </p><p>Ding Mingyi's chronology is based on a group of eighteen extant stone figures and two ink squeezes taken from stelae that </p><p>no longer exist. Nine of the figures are in museums or temples in Shaanxi, one is in Tokyo, one in the United States (see Fig. </p><p>8), the rest elsewhere in China. Unfortunately, Ding did not </p><p>include reproductions of all twenty examples, but we can still </p><p>use his conclusions as the basis for a discussion of a much larger </p><p>group of small votive stone sculptures in the Field Museum of </p><p>Natural History in Chicago, all of which were purchased in Shaanxi province between 1908 and 1910 by Berthold Laufer </p><p>for the museum. </p><p>The identification of a votive image is usually done by its </p><p>inscription, if any, and by the iconographie attributes given to </p><p>the figures. But the apparent mingling of Buddhist and Daoist </p><p>beliefs in the minds of religious people in China produced inscriptions that refer to both religions. Ding gives the follow </p><p>ing examples: on a stele dated to a.d. 424 we find both Bud </p><p>dhist and Daoist images; on a 548 stele is written "Three sages of the Great Dao and Sakyamuni"; on a 557 stele "Images of </p><p>two worthies, a Buddhist and a Daoist"; on a 562 stele "Images of Sakyamuni, Taishang Laojun,c and all the Bodhisattvas." </p><p>On another Daoist stele excavated near Luoyang we find "In </p><p>the fourth month of Kaihuangd [582] the Buddhist-Daoist </p><p>layman Fang Guanjine respectfully makes a stone image of </p><p>Laojun. " Other images dedicated by Buddhists in the late sixth </p><p>century mention only the Buddha. Similarly, Daoists of the </p><p>late sixth century and subsequently call themselves Daoists, </p><p>although some, like Fang Guanjin, use both terms.2 The Field Museum figures amply reflect the combination of both reli </p><p>gions in the popular mind in north China, as we shall see. It </p><p>does, however, seem clear that the roots of this combination </p><p>were not engendered by stone carvers; they are historical, not </p><p>art historical. </p><p>Many scholars have written at length on the doctrinal and </p><p>scriptural comingling of early religious Daoism with Bud </p><p>dhism especially during the fifth and sixth centuries a.d.3 Here a brief historical outline will have to suffice. </p><p>Daoists during the Eastern Han dynasty adopted Buddhism </p><p>rather than rejecting it as foreign and un-Chinese. A commu </p><p>nity of Buddhist monks was established in a.d. 65 by a Daoist </p><p>ruler of one of the subsidiary kingdoms of the Han empire located in the present-day province of Hebei in the city of </p><p>Pengcheng.f In 166 Emperor Huan sacrificed to the Buddha </p><p>and to the Daoist deity Huang-Lao, s who was a combined </p><p>form of Lao Zi,h the Warring States (403-221 b.c.) sage of </p><p>philosophical Daoism, and the mythical Yellow Emperor.4 The sect called the Way of the Celestial Masters, originating in the mid-second century, and led by Zhang Daoling,1 is the first </p><p>of the religious Daoist sects; it had a doctrine and scriptures and its chief deity was Laojun,J a deified form of Lao Zi. This sect, and another called the Five Pecks of Rice, spread widely, </p><p>but we have no images attributable to either sect. We do have </p><p>the images on the cliff at Kongwangshan discussed by Wu </p><p>Hung, who, it bears repeating, has identified them as Daoist </p><p>figures in adopted Buddhist guises. The formal promotion of </p><p>Daoism as a religion the equal of Buddhism took place during the reigns on the first two emperors of Northern Wei (386 </p><p>534). In 409 the Emperor Ming Yuan Di,k wishing to show his reverence, ordered that statues of the Buddha, the Yellow </p><p>Emperor, and Lao Zi be set up "in all corners of the capital" and commanded the monks to "guide the people's customs." </p><p>A parallel in art to this even-handed approach can be seen on </p><p>a Buddhist-Daoist stele found in Shaanxi, which was within </p><p>the Northern Wei realm, and dated to 424. It has two niches, </p><p>showing a Daoist priest on the left and a Buddha on the right. On the base are donors shown on each side of a central incense </p><p>burner. On the right is a man, on the left, a Daoist nun and </p><p>another man.5 The two religions are thus treated as equals. It is interesting that 424 is also the year in which the Daoist </p><p>partisan Gou Qianzhi1 (d. 432) received the approval of the Wei emperor, who appointed him Celestial Master and authorized </p><p>him to lead the faithful. Later, Tao Hongjingm (452-536) or </p><p>ganized a Daoist pantheon including two forms of the deified Lao Zi, Laojun and Taishang Laojun, of the Celestial Masters </p><p>sect. In 514 Tao produced a synthesis of Daoist doctrines by </p><p>combining the liturgies of two more sects, the Lingbao11 and </p><p>the Shangqing.06 Buddhists were persecuted twice during the Six Dynasties </p><p>period, once from 444 to 446 by the Northern Wei emperor, and again from 574 to 577 by the Northern Zhou emperor. Later, in the History of the Sui Dynasty (581 </p><p>? 618) the three </p><p>religions?Confucianism is now included?are described as </p><p>equals: Buddhism is the sun, Daoism is the moon, and Con </p><p>fucianism is the five planets.7 Fervent adherents of Buddhism and of Daoism did do battle </p><p>over which religion was superior, but their doctrinal wars were </p><p>of little interest to the lay faithful who sought salvation and a </p><p>new life in a Western Paradise available to all of them. The </p><p>point is made by Z?rcher as follows: </p><p>Perhaps we are?as so often happens?handicapped by the fact that we </p><p>can only observe Buddhism and Daoism at the very highest level, that </p><p>of the religious "professionals" and their written texts?the tops of </p><p>two pyramids. We may consider the possibility that at a lower level </p><p>the bodies of the two pyramids merged into a much less differentiated </p><p>lay religion, and that at the very base both systems largely dissolved </p><p>into an indistinct mass of popular beliefs and practices . . . the two </p><p>teachings are "two branches springing from a single trunk. "8 </p><p>71 </p><p>This content downloaded from on Fri, 13 Jun 2014 08:58:01 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>This merging of the two religions into a single mass in the </p><p>popular mind is clearly evident in the amalgamation of the two </p><p>religions in the votive sculptures discussed here, first in their </p><p>inscriptions, and second in their iconography, as we shall see. </p><p>This combination provides concrete evidence for what </p><p>Z?rcher describes as a possibility. Another factor in the blending of Buddhism and Daoism in </p><p>the popular mind was the belief that after Lao Zi had departed from China and gone west to preach to the barbarians, his </p><p>teaching returned to China as the teaching of the Buddha. This </p><p>interesting notion originated in the Han dynasty and was pro moted later on by one Wang Fu,p the purported author of the </p><p>Classic of Converting the Barbarians, the Hua hu jing,i around </p><p>a.d. 300.9 To some Daoists the Buddha and Lao Zi were the </p><p>same person, so an image of one could just as well serve as an </p><p>image of the other; not only did the lay faithful not distinguish between the two doctrines, they did not distinguish between </p><p>the two deities either. In addition to the 424 stele described by </p><p>Ding Mingyi there is another, dated to 557, that also shows a </p><p>Daoist figure, a Heavenly Worthy or tianzun/ in the lower left </p><p>corner while in the lower right corner is a Buddha. Inscribed </p><p>on the stele are the words "Images of the Buddhist and Daoist </p><p>Worthies." Ding points out that the two figures are differen </p><p>tiated only by the positions of their hands; the Daoist Worthy sits with hands folded in meditation, the Buddha gestures "fear </p><p>not" (abhaya mudra) with his right hand and holds his left </p><p>palm out and pointing down to indicate the granting of prayers </p><p>(vara mudra).10 Otherwise the two figures have the same </p><p>haloes, topknots, robes, and lotus thrones. </p><p>Carvers of Daoist images borrowed freely from Buddhist </p><p>works. The attributes and devices they employed include a </p><p>niche that frames the figure or figures, sometimes with one or </p><p>two dragons arched across the top; the lotus blossom pedestal; the flame-shaped mandorla sometimes including the flame pat tern on its surface; two attendants; celestial figures above the </p><p>niche; lions to guard the throne; and patrons in lieu of atten </p><p>dants. The standard Buddhist votive formula for inscriptions was also used. The formula in use in Shaanxi at the time is as </p><p>follows: "X day of the X month of the year X of the X reign, the disciple of the Buddha X X-x has </p><p>a stone image made on </p><p>behalf of X. " </p><p>The Daoist version in use in Shaanxi runs "In </p><p>the X year of reign X the Daoist disciple X X-x makes a stone </p><p>image (or a four-sided stele) on behalf of X. " </p><p>But there are also </p><p>attributes that are specifically Daoist, including a particular </p><p>type of hat and garments modeled on those worn by officials; a beard; an object held in the right hand that resembles </p><p>a leaf </p><p>fan but that Ding identifies as a flywhisk or, later, a tally; and </p><p>a three-footed railing placed in front of the central figure.11 The sort of costume worn by an official in the fourth century </p><p>a.d. can be seen in two figures from the important fourth </p><p>century tomb at Dengxian in Henan province (Figs. 1 and 2). </p><p>They wear tall hats with a slightly bulging crown, long robes, </p><p>and undergarments. The costume worn by Daoist deities is </p><p>very similar. </p><p>Which brings us to the collection of votive sculptures from </p><p>Shaanxi in the Field Museum. These sculptures provide ample evidence for the conflation of the two iconographies and the </p><p>adoption of the language of Buddhist inscriptions by Daoists. This combination occurs on sculptures dating to the fifth </p><p>cen </p><p>tury and continues in use until the Tang dynasty (618-907), when Daoists gave up the Buddhist connection. There are </p><p>forty-two Daoist works in the Field Museum dating from the </p><p>fifth to the eleventh centuries. Twenty-five of them are on </p><p>display. It is worth noting that nine of the twenty pieces dis </p><p>cussed by Ding Mingyi are also from Shaanxi. </p><p>We begin with a Daoist image (Fig. 3). It carries two dates, a.d. 414 and 564; stylistically the earlier date is preferable. The </p><p>inscription does not identify the deity, who is presented as a </p><p>bearded gentleman with two companions; all of them have the </p><p>Daoist attributes of Chinese garb and the flywhisk. Figure 4, </p><p>however, is clearly a Buddha whose mustache tells us that he </p><p>is Sakyamuni. He has the ushnisa topknot of a Buddha, holds </p><p>his right hand outward in the abhaya mudra, and has an un </p><p>identifiable object in his left hand. His robe is the simple mon kish garment worn by Buddha figures that lacks the lapels and </p><p>belt of a Chinese robe. </p><p>The image depicted in Figure 5 is now in a </p><p>private collection </p><p>in the United States. It has been damaged since its publication </p><p>by Siren.12 The inscription, now mostly lost, once gave a date </p><p>equivalent to 521. The Daoist costume is worn. The main </p><p>figure holds the flywhisk/fan in his right hand and touches his </p><p>right sleeve, or right foot, with his left hand. But above the </p><p>niche are motifs that come out of early Han ( 206 b.c.-a.d. </p><p>220) art: the sun on the right with birds shown in flight as seen </p><p>from above; the moon on the left with a toad inside, also seen </p><p>from above; while across the niche and between the sun and </p><p>the moon are two dragons with their necks entwined at a point above the apex of the niche. This combination of motifs makes </p><p>its initial appearance in Chinese art, as far as we know at pre </p><p>sent, on the two polychrome silk banners draped on the coffins </p><p>in tombs I and III at Mawangdui, Changsha, Hunan (ca. 165 and 168 b.c., respectively). Dragons, sun, and </p><p>moon appear </p><p>frequently in later Han funerary art and are related to the jour </p><p>ney of the soul heavenward.13 The inscription mentions only an image made of stone, so we must assume that the main </p><p>image is the deified Lao Zi as Laojun or Taishang Laojun rather </p><p>than the Buddha. </p><p>We come now to a change in style, so something must be </p><p>said about style in addition to iconography. The first group, </p><p>Figures 3, 4, and 5, displays a linear, angular style that parallels </p><p>the angular regularity of the...</p></li></ul>