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Chapter 4 Early Asian Art

Lecture on Early Asian Art

Lora Davis

on 6 November 2018

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Transcript of Chapter 4 Early Asian Art

Art Appreciation Chapter 4
Early Asian Art
Chinese Civilization- The Bronze Age
In Japan:

Shinto- Shinto does not have a founder nor does it have sacred sutras (canonical scriptures).
Shinto is deeply rooted in the Japanese people and traditions.
"Shinto gods" are called kami's.
Kami's are sacred spirits which take the form of things and concepts important to life,
such as wind, rain, mountains, trees, rivers and fertility.
Humans become kami's after they die and are revered by their families as
the ANCESTRAL kami.
The kami of extraordinary people are enshrined.
There is no absolute right and wrong, and nobody is perfect.
Shinto is an optimistic faith, as humans are thought to be fundamentally good,
and evil is believed to be caused by evil spirits.
Consequently, the purpose of most Shinto rituals is to keep away evil spirits
by purification, prayers and offerings to the kami.
Art of the Indus Valley
(present day Pakistan & northwestern India)
Yakshi bracket figure- from the Great Stupa, India
The Great Stupa, Sanchi, India. 3rd BCE
Seven Wonders of India, The Great Stupa, Sanchi
The 1st Century saw the first images of the Buddha.
These earliest styles are known as Gandhara (present day Pakistan and Afghanistan)
and Mathura (central India).
Images of Buddha
Standing Buddha, Gandhara (Pakistan) 2nd & 3rd CE. 7'6"
Here we see the Buddha as a powerful, over-life-size figure.
This figure represents the exchange of ideas with the west as the folds in his robe are stylistic...seen in other European cultures.
Sometimes this is referred to as the "wet" buddha.
Gandahara Buddha
Buddha and Attendants, Mathura, India, 271/4"
Much like the male deities, Buddha is seated in the yoga position, raising his right hand in a mudra (symbolic gesture meaning "no fear")
His noticeable features:
Chakras or wheels on his feet and his right hand are clearly visible.
In the background are the branches of the bodhi tree this represent Buddha receiving his enlightenment.
Wall Murals of the Gupta Period
A powerful new dynasty, the Gupta emerged in India, around 320 AD.
The Gupta were probably not of royal lineage, but for a century ruled all of North Central India.
They are credited with what is known as "The Classical Period" of Indian art.
This time was also referred to as "The Golden Culture" due to the development & advancement of science, literature, and the visual and performing arts.
Buddhist Symbols
Some of the most important

Buddhist symbols
although some variations exist.
The Indus Valley
Although Indian art is regionally diverse, many characteristics unite the art.
A distinctive sense of beauty with voluptuous forms.
An abundance of ornamentation, texture and color.
"Great Mother Goddess" figure
What does this remind us of?
Seals similar to cylinder seals of Sumer
Buddhism & images associated with Buddha
and Buddhism comprise much of the subject
matter in art from the 3rd to the 5th century.
Buddhism became a state religion.
For many years, the sculpture and painting
of India payed homage to the religion.
Lion capital Uttar Pradesh India, Maurya Empire
This capital topped a 50ft. pillar of polished sandstone on monastery grounds at Sarnath, the site of Buddha's first teaching.
Cave Temple of Shiva
The cave temple of Shiva is located on Elephanta in western India.
The temple was excavated out of the rock sometime in the 6th century. Inside, it contains a square linga shrine.
The limited source of light and the cross and backlighting effects create a sense of mystery.
Shiva (the "auspicious one") embodies the entire universe exhibiting a wide range of forms.
The interior of the cave is decorated with a dozen large relief sculptures of the great god Shiva in his fierce as well as kindly aspects:
the Cosmic Dancer who dances the destruction and re-creation of the world, practicing yoga, playing dice with goddess Parvati,
slaying a demon, and receiving the Gages river in his hair.
Southeast Asia
Asia embraced Buddhism
At the end of the 8th century, a family of rulers known as the "Lords of the Mountains"
began building a "magnificent" temple in the form of a scared mountain.
The temple is known as Borobudur located at Central Java, Indonesia.
The Silk Road
A place where cultures met, merged & exchanged ideas.
The silk road or route was a 5,000 miles-long network
of traveling caravans as well as a sea route which passed through hostile regions in Asia and the Middle East.
Goods were passed on from trader to trader.
But most importantly, ideas, religions, philosophies and politics were also exchanged.
Terra-Cotta Warriors
China...Country of Invention
and Discovery
home of military boats
and the Terra Cotta Soldiers
The Great Wall
South and East Asia civilizations are among the world's oldest
......it is here that we see the birth of
6 religions/philosophies

...............In India

Siddhartha Gautama was born into a royal family near Nepal.
At 29, he realized that wealth and luxury did not guarantee happiness so he explored the different teachings religions and philosophies of the day looking for the key to human happiness.
After six years of study and meditation, he finally found 'the middle path' and was enlightened.
............ After enlightenment, the Buddha spent the rest of his life teaching the principles of Buddhism
called the Dhamma, or Truth until his death at the age of 80.
Principles of Buddhism
1) Lead a moral life.
(2) Be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions.
(3) Develop wisdom and understanding.


Thought to be the oldest religion in the world.
Hindusim is monotheistic- a belief in
Supreme Being
In Hindusim......
All living things are to be honored...all acts toward living things should be non-injourous in thoughts, words and deeds.
Strong belief in reincarnation.


Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings.
Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation.
Any soul that has conquered inner enemies and achieved the state of supreme being is called Jina.
In China:
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius. It is a complex system of moral, social, political, philosophical, and quasi-religious thought that influenced the culture and history of East Asia.
Some in East Asian countries may consider Confucianism a state religion because of state promotion of Confucian philosophies.
In Confucianism, human beings are teachable, improvable and perfectible through personal
and communal self-cultivation and self-creation.
A main idea of Confucianism is the cultivation of virtue and the development of moral perfection.

Daoism-Taoism (also spelled Daoism) refers to a variety of related philosophical and religious traditions that have influenced Eastern Asia.
Taoist emphasize the Three Jewels of the Tao: compassion, moderation, and humility, while Daoist thought generally focuses on nature, the relationship between humanity and the cosmos.
The Teapot!
An important cultural icon but how much do you really know?

China invented many things...
one being the invention of paper and printing techniques
pt. 1
pt. 2
*Check out
the Fang Ding*
The film discusses
3 virtues
are important in Chinese culture.
The 3 Virtues are: compassion,
individual improvement
& respect for divine beings
The Great Silk Road or Route
was the link that connected Imperial China to other parts of the world.
Ideas of art science and religion traveled along the road both ways changing the east and the west.
Why do you think that symbols important to a culture?

Tools and Techniques

Traditional East Asian writing uses the Four Treasures of the Study
The ink brushes to write Chinese characters
Chinese ink
These tools are known as the Four Friends of the Study in Korea.
In addition to these four tools, desk pads and paperweights are also
used by calligraphers.

The shape, size, stretch and hair type of the ink brush, the color, color density and water density of the ink, as well as the paper's water absorption speed and surface texture are the main physical parameters influencing the final result.
The calligrapher also influences the result by the quantity of ink/water he lets the brush take, by the pressure, inclination, and direction he gives to the brush, producing thinner or bolder strokes.
Eventually, the speed, accelerations, decelerations of the writer's moves, turns, and the stroke order give the "spirit" to the characters.
China- Life Behind The Great Wall
The World Tree
The Woman of Willendorf
A Marvel of Engineering
Sat. photo
of the Great Wall
Protection In The Afterlife
Java, Indonesia
c. 800CE.
Lava stone
Created by combining stylized strokes with a brush and ink to form the characters of Chinese writing.
Calligraphy comes from the Greek meaning "beautiful writing".
Other names for calligraphy:
The local name for calligraphy is Shūf in China, meaning
"The way/method/law of writing"
Shodō in Japan, meaning
"The way/principle of writing"
Seoye in Korean, meaning
"The art of writing"
The calligraphy of East Asian characters is an important
and appreciated aspect of East Asian culture.
The Great Stupa at Sanchi
The Stupa
Asian Art Museum
Secrets of the Stupa
In three regions the Buddha is recognized by certain shared visual characteristics.
a. The monk's robe.
b. Heavy earrings with distended earlobes.
c. Ushnisha- Protuberance on the top of
his head, bun or top knot.
d. Urna - Tuft of white hair between his
Important to know!
What are the virtues?
Porcelain Flask
With decoration in cobalt blue underglaze
Ming dynasty
c. 1425-1435
The Palace Museum, Beijing
Yakshi is seen as a symbol of nature's fertility.
In this pose, she symbolizes the
sap of the tree which flowers on her touch.
Found in Buddhist rock-cut temples and halls in Western India.
In all three regions & throughout Asian art,
Buddha shares certain shared visual characteristics.
He wears a simple monk's robe, heavy earrings, tuft of white hair and has an ushnisha ( a bun or topknot which symbols the enlightenment).
Quatrain on Spring's Radiance
Empress Yang Meizi (Chinese, 1162–1232
Early 13th century
Calligraphy, the art of writing
was the visual art form prized
above all others in traditional China.
Thank you for your attention.
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