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LI Gonglin, an early chinese Chan painter

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on a few paintings of Chan subjects and their intricate historical content, namely Picture of Transmitting the Dharma and Bestowing the Robe, Xuansha Gazing at Fish, and Danxia Visits Layman Pang. It attempts to identify within them elements of history and of the Longmian Chan environment, and to identify issues that Li Gonglin had to reconcile when he depicted them. This discussion cannot be achieved without first recognizing Li's talent in portraiture, the source of his expertise in figural art, which was the foundation of his Buddhist oeuvre. The syncretic nature of Longmian Chan, which precludes strict definition of Chan painting subjects, also needs to be addressed. Finally, the chapter presents Li's depictions of Avalokiteśvara, and demonstrates that this deity had become Li Gonglin's guardian of Mind-cultivation.

Keywords: Avalokitesvara paintings; Chinese Chan painter; Layman Pang; Li Gonglin's Buddhist painting; Longmian Chan environment



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