The Lotus Sutra in Chinese Art. A Study in Buddhist Art to the Year J. Leroy Davidson

Download The Lotus Sutra in Chinese Art. A Study in Buddhist Art to the Year J. Leroy Davidson

Post on 20-Jan-2017




0 download

Embed Size (px)


<ul><li><p>The Lotus Sutra in Chinese Art. A Study in Buddhist Art to the Year 1000. by J. LeroyDavidsonReview by: Benjamin Rowland, Jr.The Far Eastern Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 3 (May, 1955), pp. 409-411Published by: Association for Asian StudiesStable URL: .Accessed: 13/06/2014 17:48</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>Association for Asian Studies is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The FarEastern Quarterly.</p><p> </p><p>This content downloaded from on Fri, 13 Jun 2014 17:48:10 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>BOOK REVIEWS 409 </p><p>points of the phonology" (p. 22). Since he goes through most of his investiga- tions methodically, a number of the contributions deserve our high estimation. For instance, his discussions on the initials /y-, j-, O(i)-/ (pp. 24-27, 30, 31) are helpful for settling disputes in the reconstruction of Archaic pronunci- ation; a proposal formerly made by some scholars for establishing a series of pre-gutteral initials in the Archaic period is strengthened by a number of sound-glosses listed in pp. 27-28, and some important sound changes in Chi- nese phonology-e.g., the differentiation of Ancient palatal stops from orig- inal Archaic dental stops and of Ancient supradental affricates from original Archaic dental affricates-are for the first time definitely dated here (p. 22). </p><p>Naturally, the reviewer does not agree with the author in all of his ap- proaches. Space does not allow a full statement of disagreements. The fol- lowing two points are, perhaps, of most importance: </p><p>(1) He would have made some of his discussions easier and clearer and would not have been pre-limited by Karlgren's reconstructions had he started inferring only from the Ancient system and used the Archaic system only as a second step consultation, instead of starting from both systems at the same time, or conversely, starting from the Archaic, which is in fact worked out on the basis of the Ancient and in which there are still many uncertainties. </p><p>(2) A hypothesis on Ancient /y-/ words formerly stated by Professor Li Fang-kuei has been used by Bodman for establishing his theory of "'-: Anc. /1 -/ &lt; Arch. /yl -/" (p. 54). It would be necessary to have Li's hypothesis satisfactorily proved at the outset, but unfortunately he has neglected to do so. </p><p>TUNG TUNG-HO National Taiwan University </p><p>The Lotus Sutra in Chinese Art. A Study in Buddhist Art to the Year 1000. By J. LEROY DAVIDSON. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1954. xvi, 105. 40 plates. Index. $5.00. </p><p>This book represents a pioneer attempt to follow the development of a single Buddhist text through its representation in art in a given region and over a fixed period of time. </p><p>Over and beyond its specific examination of the Lotus Sutra, Mr. Davidson's book constitutes a history of Buddhist art in China from the beginnings up to the year 1000. The book opens with a brief and masterly analysis of the Lotus Sutra itself with special emphasis on the dramatic elements of this basic scripture. The succeeding chapters describe the religious situation in China in the declining centuries of the Han Empire and the first Buddhist missionary activity in China which laid the foundations for the acceptance of the faith. The dominance of the Lotus Sutra begins to assert itself in the great cave temples of Northern Wei, as well as in a great number of individual dedications which the author analyzes in relation to the exploitation of the Prabhutaratna miracle and Vimalakirti Sutra. The later chapters of the book deal with the </p><p>This content downloaded from on Fri, 13 Jun 2014 17:48:10 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>410 FAR EASTERN QUARTERLY </p><p>illustrations of the Lotus in Sui and T'ang times, and a final section, illus- trated by wall-paintings and banners from Tun-huang, is devoted to the study of the Sutra in the period after the persecution of 845. </p><p>Strictly iconographical studies fail to give the strong impression conveyed by this study of the Lotus Sutra that works of art based upon it inevitably give their separate visual interpretation of the text. They furnish a pictorial or sculptural exegesis of the scripture for both intellectual and illiterate that is as valid a revelation of the status of such a book as the written commentaries by contemporary religious. It is the demonstration of this point that makes Mr. Davidson's work so valuable both for art historians and students of Buddhism. Mr. Davidson also traces the sinification of the Saddharma Punzarfika in art forms just as, in a parallel way, the Chinese literary interpretations of the Sutra reveal its gradual adaptation to Chinese thought in ritual and practice. </p><p>As part of this process of sinification, the writer is careful to point out that it was the magical and miraculous aspects of the Sutra which the translators of the text into Chinese and into Chinese art were inclined to stress, as is evi- denced in sculpture and painting by the universal emphasis on the most spec- tacular of the Buddha's magical performances-the evocation of the Buddha Prabhutaratna in the pagoda in the sky. If the missionaries of the Lotus pro- vided magic for the masses they furnished an attraction for the literati in the syncretic adoption of the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra as an integral part of the Lotus iconography. The study of the interpolation of the Vimalakirti legend forms one of the more brilliant chapters in the book. </p><p>In this same connection, it might be suggested that the predominance of Jataka stories in the early caves at Tun-huang is not necessarily to be taken as an indication of the predominance of Hinayana at the oasis: as could be il- lustrated by the far more complex iconography of Barabudur, the Jitakas could be part of the Mahiyana exposition as the initial stage or level in the devo- tee's pilgrimage to the zenith of the Buddhist man~ala, It might be supposed, too, that the folk-tale quality of these stories was useful for the popularization of the religion, just as details of agrarian activity and honest toil lifted from the same frescoes provide propaganda for the present Communist regime in postage stamps and vulgarized prints. As Mr. Davidson states, the appeal was to all groups on their own level. </p><p>"If the teachers gave their intellect to the Lotus, it was to the paradise Sutras that the people gave their hearts." This statement perfectly explains the slow decline of the great text in the centuries when Buddhism in China be- came in every sense a popular religion at the cost of philosophic probity. This is a trend which, as the author points out, led to the subordination of Sa-kya- muni to Maitreya and Amitabha and the development of the sentimental realism demanded by the paradise cults. </p><p>Mr. Davidson's book might appear to invite comparison with other inter- pretations of religious texts through their representation in art, such as Togan5-6's Rishliky6 no Kenky-u or the same writer's work on mandaras. Other comparable studies are De Visser's The Arhats in China and Japan and Eichi </p><p>This content downloaded from on Fri, 13 Jun 2014 17:48:10 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p></li><li><p>BOOK REVIEWS 411 </p><p>Matsumoto' s monumental work on the Tun-huang paintings. None of these writers, however, deal with the stylistic evolution of themes in Buddhist art within the framework of iconography, and it is precisely in his skillful inter- relation of iconography and style that Mr. Davidson provides a model for the integrated study of religious art in the Far East as a complete revelation of both belief and taste. </p><p>BENJAMIN ROWLAND, JR. Harvard University </p><p>Chinese Mandarin Squares. By SCHUYLER VAN R. CAMMANN. Bulletin of the University Museum. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania, June, 1953. </p><p>In Spring, 1952, the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania acquired the Letcher collection of Chinese Mandarin squares. Together with a brief catalogue of this collection, Dr. Schuyler Cammann has published a study on Chinese Mandarin Squares. These Mandarin squares were emblems which the Chinese officials of the last two dynasties wore on their robes to indicate their respective ranks. After the fall of the last Chinese dynasty in 1911, many of these squares were sold to tourists as samples of artistic weav- ing and were scattered or lost. Few systematic efforts were made to collect them, and the University Museum has acquired the only large and comprehen- sive collection known. It was collected in Peking before the Sino-Japanese War by Brig. Gen. J. S. Letcher of the United States Marines and its signifi- cance and importance is made clear by the excellent study of Dr. Cammann. </p><p>Dr. Cammann describes the historical background of the use of these in- signia of rank during the Ming and Ch'ing periods. The idea of using bird and animal decorations on their robes to indicate position had been taken over by the Ming from the preceding Mongol dynasty, but the Ming dynastic laws that regulated costume determined the definite use of specific animal or bird em- blems for each rank and they also decreed that they be worn as squares on the front and back of the official robes. This use of squares to designate rank was continued under the Ch'ing dynasty. But during the whole period of the Ming and Manchu dynasties, there were changes in the use of animals as symbols of rank in addition to changes in the style of representation, reflecting the taste of the time as well as sometimes the availability of materials. Dr. Cammann has made an extensive study of these variations. He has followed the changes through the various periods and has commented also on the symbolisms of the various designs used. From this description of the changing styles and his listing of the use of the various birds and animals and rank they indicated at each time, it is possible to determine not only the position of the official, but also the time in which the various designs were created. Dr. Cammann has also studied the use of squares for other purposes, such as festivals or wed- dings, and he has briefly gone into the acceptance of this Chinese custom by neighboring countries such as Korea and Annam. He has added a short dis- course on the use of other forms of insignia, such as hat or belt ornaments, during the Ch'ing dynasty. </p><p>This content downloaded from on Fri, 13 Jun 2014 17:48:10 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p></p><p>Article Contentsp. 409p. 410p. 411</p><p>Issue Table of ContentsThe Far Eastern Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 3 (May, 1955), pp. 315-461Front Matter [pp. ]Japan Before History: A Survey of the Archaeological Record [pp. 317-346]The Portrait of the Artist in Japanese Fiction [pp. 347-354]Old Values and New Techniques in the Modernization of Japan [pp. 355-363]Meadows on China: A Centennial Review [pp. 365-371]Far Eastern Art: Important Museum Accessions for 1954 [pp. 373-386]NotesThe 1953 Census of China [pp. 387-388]A New Version of San Min Chu I [pp. 389-391]</p><p>Book ReviewsReview: untitled [pp. 393-394]Review: untitled [pp. 394-395]Review: untitled [pp. 395-402]Review: untitled [pp. 402-406]Review: untitled [pp. 406-408]Review: untitled [pp. 408-409]Review: untitled [pp. 409-411]Review: untitled [pp. 411-412]Review: untitled [pp. 412-413]Review: untitled [pp. 413]Review: untitled [pp. 414-415]Review: untitled [pp. 415-416]Review: untitled [pp. 416-418]Review: untitled [pp. 418-422]Review: untitled [pp. 422-424]Review: untitled [pp. 424-425]Review: untitled [pp. 425]Review: untitled [pp. 426-427]Review: untitled [pp. 427-428]Review: untitled [pp. 428-429]Review: untitled [pp. 429]Review: untitled [pp. 430]Shorter NoticesReview: untitled [pp. 431]Review: untitled [pp. 431]Review: untitled [pp. 432]</p><p>Other Books Received [pp. 432-434]</p><p>Communications [pp. 435-441]Correction: From Hatoyama to Hatoyama [pp. 441-442]News of the Profession [pp. 443-461]</p></li></ul>