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On the State of the Field Table of Contents
Summary of Recent Research in Buddhist Art

Zhang Zong
Associate Researcher
Institute of Religious Studies
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences


The study of Buddhist art in China began regrouping after the end of the Cultural Revolution (1976), gradually becoming more vitalized. Since the 1990s, the archaeology of cave-temples and research into aspects such as Buddhist architecture and painting have moved forward. The 16-volume Zhongguo shikusi (Chinese Cave-Temples), published in cooperation between Wenwu Press of China and Heibonsha of Japan, is a series of specialized, illustrated volumes assembling the great achievements in Chinese cave-temple archaeology and grotto art. This series, fully published in 1998, is quite comprehensive and covers important extant Chinese cave-temples. The vast contents of the multi-volume Zhongguo meishu quan ji (The Complete Collection of Chinese Art), jointly published by the Wenwu Press and Shanghai People's Art Press, touch on all aspects of Buddhist art, such as Buddhist statues, grottoes, painting, and other objects. Mr. Su Bai broke new ground in the establishment of Tibetan archaeology with his volume, Archaeology of Extant Tibetan Buddhist Temples, published in 1996. In addition, Mr. Su Bai's essay collection on cave-temple archaeology, Chinese Cave-Temple Research, published in the same year, includes such important essays as: "Remains of Liangzhou Cave-Temples and the 'Liangzhou Type,'" "Early Exploration of the Remains of Southern Niche Sculptures," "The Accumulation of Power at Pingcheng, and the Formation and Development of the 'Yunfeng (Cloud-Wind) Type,'" "Esoteric Tibetan Religion in Yuan Dynasty Hangzhou and Related Remains," and "Comments on Esoteric Religion at the Mogao Caves." These essays all build upon China's indigenous system of cave-temple archaeology, and, moreover, are a great achievement in cultural history. As such, these seminal workôsô act as both the reflection of and the guiding force behind Chinese Buddhist cave archaeology.

Among archaeological reports, first there was The Remains of the Huigu Temple in Gaochang, Jimsar (Xinjiang), then recently the first volume of Kizil Caves (December 1997) and Sculptural Art of the Dafo Temple in Bin County (September 1998). All are comprehensive archaeological reports, indicating that cave-temple research in China is entering a new phase.

Remains of murals in Tibetan palaces and halls, as in Ancient Patterns Old Cities, have attracted attention. The Zhongguo meishu quan ji series also includes the compilation, "Fenlei quan ji (Complete Classified Collection)," and murals from Tibet and Xinjiang have already been published in Bihua quan ji (The Complete Collection of Murals).

The series Shiku diaosu quan ji (The Complete Collection of Cave-Temple Sculpture) is also basically complete. In keeping with the expansion of the field, middle- and small-scale grottoes, at first not given much importance, became subject to inspection and research, for example: the Tongtian Cliff in Ganzhou, Jiangxi; the Shifo Cave-Temple and Gaohuanyun Cave in Zuoquan, Shanxi; the Kaihe Cave-Temple in Pingding; the Yushe Cave-Temple; images carved into the rock-face at the Zixian Temple in Ciyunling, Hangzhou; Cave 13 in Qixia Mountain, Nanjing; the Western Shrine Grottoes in Bazhong, Sichuan; the Jianshanzi and Shengshui Caves at Dazu; the Xiwo Cave at Xin'an, Henan; the cliff carvings at the Dragon Cave in Dapi Mountain, Jun County; the Xiahuayuan Cave, Zhangjiakou, Hebei; the Huangshi Cliff at Licheng, Shandong; and Liming Aerie and Snake Mountain at Dongping. Grottoes in Northern Shaanxi have been documented and classified. Buddhist stupa art treasures, represented by the Famen Temple, appear in many publications, and feed the debate of whether or not the arrangement of such earthen halls constitute "mandala."

Collected esays include Guizi fojiao wenhua lunji (Collection of Discussions on Buddhist Culture in Kucha, 1993); Wu Diao's Fojiao dong chuan yu Zhongguo fojiao yishu (The Eastward Expansion of Buddhism Eastward and Chinese Buddhist Art, 1991); and Wen Yucheng's Zhongguo shiku yu wenhua yishu (Chinese Grottoes, Culture, and Art, 1993). The volume Zhongwai meishu jiaoliu shi (History of Interaction Between Foreign and Chinese Art), edited by Wang Yong, focuses primarily on Buddhist art. Several historians have also published collected essays on Buddhist art. For example, Yutian shi cong kao (Collected Researches on the History of Khotan) by Zhang Guangda and Rong Xinjiang includes the essays "Buddhist Temple Records from Khotan" and "Dunhuang ruixiang, ruixiangtu ji fanying de Yutian (Auspicious Omens and Illustrations of Auspicious Omens at Dunhuang and Reflections of Khotan)." In Jiang Boqin's Dunhuang yishu zongjiao yu li yue wenming (Art, Religion, and Ceremonial Music in Dunhuang Civilization), the essay "Lun Danmi shikusi yu Xiyu fojiao meishuzhong di Wusouhu liupai (On the Danmi Cave-Temple and the Wusouhu School of Buddhist Art in the Western Regions)" discusses the circumstances surrounding the commingling of Chinese and foreign Buddhist art. It also contains an essay from the Dunhuang painting academy on "Xiezhen miaozhen yu xiaoxiang yishu (Description and Imitation and the Art of Portraiture)."

From Hong Kong and Taiwan, we have Lin Baoyao's "Fahua zaoxiang yanjiu (Research on Images of the Flowering of the Law)," which presents extremely in-depth research of statuary, mainly from the first year of Eastern Wei Wuding era (543 AD). Li Yumin's "Sui Tang zhi Mile xinyang yu tuxiang (Sui and Tang Dynasty Maitreya Beliefs and Its Images)," "Dunhuang 259 ku zhi yanjiu (Research on Dunhuang Cave 259)," "Hebei zaoqi di zaoxiang (Early Sculpture from Hebei)," "Heishuicheng chutu Xixia Mituo hua chu shen (Preliminary Exploration of Xixia Paintings of Amitabha Excavated in Heishuicheng)" and Yan Juanying's "Wu Zetian yu Chang'an Qibaotai shi diao foxiang (Wu Zetian and the Buddhist Images Carved on the Qibaotai, Chang'an)," "Hebei Xiangtangshan shiku chu shen (Preliminary Exploration of the Xiangtangshan Caves in Hebei)," and "Bei Qi Xiaonanhai shiku yu seng hou (The Xiaonanhai Caves of the Northern Qi and the Monastic Congregation)."

Contributions from Japanese scholars include Sofukawa Hiroshi's "Ry�mon sekkutsu ni okeru T�dai z�z� no kenkyû� (Research on Tang Dynasty Statues from the Longmen Caves)," Okada Ken's three-part series discussing early Tang sculpture at Longmen and his article on the early Tang style at Gongxian, and Miyaji Akira's Nehan to Miroku no zuz�gaku (Study of Illustrations of Nirvana and Maitreya).

Examination of and research in cave and cliff-face carvings have also gone forward. There are detailed reports on Northern Qi scriptures carved onto the cliffs at Huangshan in She County, Hebei, as well as those in Sui Dynasty niches in the Bahui Temple at Quyang. Regarding Shandong cliff carvings, Shandong Bei Chao moya ke jing quan ji (The Complete Collection of Northern Dynasties Carved Scriptures on Shandong Cliff-faces) has also been published. There was also the publication of the proceedings and collected papers from the International Academic Symposium on Shandong Bei Chao moya ke jing yanjiu (Research into the Northern Dynasties Cliff-face Carvings in Shandong). In Dongping (formerly Pingyang County), there have been new discoveries at Erhongding and other sites. The content of the carvings have already been documented, and the accompanying Shandong Pingyang Sanshan moya (Carvings from Sanshan, Pingyang, Shandong) published.

The most astonishing discovery in Buddhist art was the hoard of Buddhist statues in a storage pit at the Longxing Temple in Qingzhou, Shandong. For the most part, these date from the Northern Dynasties. All possess the original gold-leaf and colored pigment. Among these, the polychrome Vairocana images have attracted attention. This group of sculptures are currently on display at the Chinese History Museum, with labels and an illustrated catalogue written by experts.

In Ali, Tibet, there was also the discovery of the Dongga and Piyang Caves. These are the two largest cave-temples extant in the Ali region. In all there are over 1000 caves, dating from the eleventh through fifteenth centuries. Especially precious are the exquisite murals inside the caves, a major discovery in Buddhist art.
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Bibliography

Bin Xian Dafosi zaoxiang yishu (Sculptural Art of the Dafo Temple in Bin County). Xiandai chubanshe, 1998.

Ji ge gu cheng (Ancient Patterns Old Cities).*

Jiang Boqin, ed. Dunhuang yishu zongjiao yu li yue wenming (Art, Religion, and Ceremonial Music in Dunhuang Civilization). Beijing: Zhongguo sheke chubanshe, 1996.

Li Yumin. "Dunhuang 259 ku zhi yanjiu (Research on Dunhuang Cave 259)," in Dunhuangxue guoji xueshu taolunhui lunwen tigang (Abstracts from the Dunhuang Studies International Academic Conference). Unpublished, 1994.

Li Yumin. "Hebei zaoqi di zaoxiang (Early Sculpture from Hebei)," Gugong xueshu qikan 1994.7.

Li Yumin. Heishuicheng chutu Xixia Mituo hua chu shen (Preliminary Exploration of Xixia Paintings of Amitabha Excavated in Heishuicheng).*

Li Yumin. "Sui Tang zhi Mile xinyang yu tuxiang (Sui and Tang Dynasty Maitreya Beliefs and Its Images)," Yishuxue (Art Studies (Taipei)) 1987:1.

Lin Baoyao. Fahua zaoxiang yanjiu: Jiadeng bowuguan cang (Research on Images of the Flowering of the Law). Taipei: Yishujia chubanshe, 1993.

Miyaji Akira. Nehan to miroku no zuz�gaku (Study of Illustrations of Nirvana and Maitreya). Yoshikawa k�bunkan, 1992.

Okada Ken. "Ry�mon sekkutsu shot� z�z� ron -- sono ichi -- tais� j�ganki made no michinori (On Early Tang Images at Longmen (1) -- From the Zhen'guan Era of the Taizong Reign Onwards)," Bukkyô geijutsu (Buddhist Sculpture) 171 (1987).

Okada Ken. "Ryûmon sekkutsu shotô zôzô ron (ni) -- kôsô zenki (On Early Tang Images at Longmen (2) -- Early Gaozong Reign)," Bukkyô geijutsu (Buddhist Sculpture) 186 (1988).

Okada Ken. "Ryûmon sekkutsu shotô zôzô ron (san) -- kôsô kôki (On Early Tang Images at Longmen (3) -- Late Gaozong Reign)," Bukkyô geijutsu (Buddhist Sculpture) 196 (1991).

Okada Ken. "Kyôken sekkutsu to shotô zôzô (The Gongxian Cave-Temples and Early Tang Sculpture," Bijutsu kenkyû (Fine Art Research) 360 (1999).

Shandong Bei Chao moya ke jing quan ji (The Complete Collection of Northern Dynasties Carved Scriptures on Shandong Cliff-faces). Qilu shushe, 1992.

Shandong Bei Chao moya ke jing yanjiu (Research into the Northern Dynasties Cliff-face Carvings in Shandong). Qilu shushe, 1991.

Shandong Pingyang Sanshan moya (Carvings from Sanshan, Pingyang, Shandong). [Beijing]: Rongbaozhai chubanshe, 1997.

Shiku diaosu quan ji (The Complete Collection of Cave-Temple Sculpture).*

Sofukawa Hiroshi. "Ryûmon sekkutsu ni ikeru Tôdai zôzô no kenkyû (Research on Tang Dynasty Statues from the Longmen Caves)," Tohô gakuhô (Journal of Oriental Studies) 60 (1988).

Su Bai. Beiting Gaochang Huigusi fosi yizhi (The Remains of the Huigu Temple in Gaochang, Beiting (Xinjiang)). Liaoning meishu chubanshe, 1991.

Su Bai. Guizi fojiao wenhua lunji (Collection of Discussions on Buddhist Culture in Kucha). Xinjiang meishu sheying chubanshe, 1993.

Su Bai. Xinjiang Kezier shiku kaogu baogao (Report on Cave-Temple Archaeology at Kizil, Xinjiang). [Beijing]: Wenwu chubanshe, 1997.

Su Bai. Zang chuan fojiao siyuan kaogu (Archaeology of Extant Tibetan Buddhist Temples). Beijing: Wenwu chubanshe, 1996.

Su Bai. Zhongguo shiku si yanjiu (Chinese Cave-Temple Research). Beijing: Wenwu chubanshe, 1996.

Wang Yong, ed. Zhongwai meishu jiaoliu shi (A Chinese-Foreign Exchange History of Arts). [Changsha]: Hunan jiaoyu chubanshe, 1998.

Wen Yucheng. Zhongguo shiku yu wenhua yishu (Chinese Grottoes, Culture, and Art). Shanghai: Shanghai renmin meishu chubanshe, 1993.

Wu Zhuo. Fojiao dong chuan yu Zhongguo fojiao yishu (The Eastward Expansion of Buddhism and Chinese Buddhist Art). Hangzhou: Zhejiang renmin chubanshe, 1991.

Yan Juanying (Yen Chuan-ying). "Bei Qi Xiaonanhai shiku yu seng hou (The Xiaonanhai Caves of the Northern Qi and the Monastic Congregation)," Dongfang xuebao (Journal of Oriental Studies) 70.

Yan Juanying (Yen Chuan-ying). "Hebei Xiangtangshan shiku chu shen (Preliminary Exploration of the Xiangtangshan Caves in Hebei)," in Kaogu yu lishi wenhua -- Gao Xiaomei xiansheng bashi da jinian wenji (Archaeology and historical culture -- Collected Works of Mr. Gao Xiaomei in Commemoration of His Eightieth Birthday). Taibei: Zhongzheng shuju, 1991.

Yan Juanying (Yen Chuan-ying). "The Tower of Seven Jewels and Empress Wu," National Palace Museum Bulletin 22:1 (March/April 1987).

Yan Juanying (Yen Chuan-ying). "Wu Zetian yu Chang'an Qibaotai shi diao foxiang (Wu Zetian and the stone Buddhist images of the Tower of Seven Jewels in Chang'an)," Yishuxue (Art Studies (Taiwan)) 1987.3.

Zhang Guangda and Rong Xinjiang. Yutian shi cong kao (Collected Researches on the History of Khotan). Shanghai: Shanghai shudian, 1993.

Zhongguo bihua quanji: Xinjiang Kizil (Comprehensive Collection of Chinese Wall Paintings: Kizil). 3 vols., 1997.*
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*Complete citation will be posted soon.

 

 


 


*Click each image to enlarge.


Buddhist stele from Qingzhou. Eastern Wei. Limestone. 112 x 71 cm.


Mandorla fragment from Qingzhou. Northern Wei-Eastern Wei. Limestone.
70 x 70 cm.


Mandorla fragment from Qingzhou.
Northern Wei - Eastern Wei. Limestone.
112 x 54 cm.


Mandorla fragment from Qingzhou.
Northern Wei - Eastern Wei. Limestone.
75 x 29 cm.

More Images from Qingzhou

Even More Images from Qingzhou

 

 

 


 


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Yin Jinan
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