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LI Gonglin's white lotus society picture

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Chapter Summary

Li Gonglin painted many versions of White Lotus Society Picture, in both handscroll and hanging-scroll formats, which appear to have shared one iconographic design. Analyses of Li Gonglin's iconographic design in this chapter set the foundation for further investigation into his Pure Land faith. A textual and historical understanding of Li Gonglin's interpretation is fundamental in deciphering the meaning of his White Lotus Society Picture. The chapter considers each of the nine scenes in the picture, noting details of the acclaimed Donglin tradition, then Li Gonglin's variations on that tradition so that one may more fully comprehend the iconographic structure and the messages the painter wished to convey. The nine scenes in Li's White Lotus Society Picture can be divided into inside and outside the Donglin Monastery grounds. The three scenes of Buddhist activities emphasized three important preachings: Buddha-nature, Buddhist wisdom and nirvāṇa.

Keywords: Buddhist wisdom; Donglin monastery grounds; Donglin tradition; Li Gonglin's iconographic design; nirvāṇa; White Lotus Society Picture



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