By Qiang Ning
The cave-temple advanced popularly often called the Dunhuang caves is the world's greatest extant repository of Tang Buddhist artwork. one of the best preserved of the Dunhuang caves is the Zhai kinfolk Cave, inbuilt 642. it really is this outstanding cave-temple that types the point of interest of Ning Qiang's cross-disciplinary exploration of the interrelationship of artwork, faith, and politics throughout the Tang. In his cautious exam of the work and sculptures came across there, the writer combines the historic research of images with the pictorial learn of background. through applying this two-fold process, he's in a position to discuss with textual proof in reading the formal beneficial properties of the cave-temple work and to hire visible information to fill within the ancient gaps necessarily left by means of text-oriented students. the result's a accomplished research of the visible tradition of the interval and a bright description of social lifestyles in medieval China. the unique Zhai kin Cave photos have been painted over within the 10th century and remained hidden until eventually the early Forties. as soon as uncovered, the early art seemed clean and colourful compared to different Tang work at Dunhuang.
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Extra info for Art, Religion and Politics in Medieval China: The Dunhuang Cave of the Zhai Family
Bhai∂ajya-guru and his followers, including the bodhisattvas and the Yak∂a corresponds exactly to the composition of the Westgenerals and their relatives, sit on the platforms ern Paradise depicted on the opposite wall of the ﬂoating on a huge water pond in which a few newly same cave. reborn infants are visible (Fig. 21). In addition, the Fifty-ﬁve illustrations of the Bhai∂ajya-guru twelve great vows (shier dayuan) of the Healing Sûtra have been identiﬁed in the Tang-dynasty Master and the nine untimely deaths (jiu hengsi) are Dunhuang caves.
On the left and right sides of the Buddha images, the generals or guardians of the Bhai∂ajyaguru cult known as Yak∂a are represented. Together, these motifs create a sacred environment of religious ritual and an exciting scene of entertainment. Previous scholarship has vaguely identiﬁed the north wall painting as Yaoshijing bian (Illustration of the Bhai∂ajya-guru Sûtra). 13 My study of the iconography of this painting, however, argues that this painting mainly represents the Healing Ritual of Bhai∂ajya-guru rather than his paradise.
Although we ﬁnd close links between the Healing Ritual and the motifs depicted in the painting, it is too simplistic to conclude that this painting is a visual representation of a real ritual. In fact, this painting represents the Healing Ritual as described in the scripture. The seven images of the Buddha, the colorful banners, the shining lamps, and the musicians are clearly recorded in the sutra and shown in the painting, but some key elements of the ritual, including the religious practitioners and the patrons, are absent from the painting.
Art, Religion and Politics in Medieval China: The Dunhuang Cave of the Zhai Family by Qiang Ning