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Buddhist Art in Medieval China: The Ecclesiastical View [31]

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Chapter Summary

This chapter talks about the way Buddhist art was used in its original environment. The most famous theme in the scriptural sources dealing with iconography is the story about the sandalwood image of the Buddha made at Kauśāmbī at the order of King Udyāna. The bits of information contained in the Chinese versions of the Vinaya of various schools may be stereotyped and prescriptive, but they also are rather concrete and down-to-earth. Another passage in the same Vinaya is devoted to the subjects to be represented in painting (no doubt referring to wall paintings) and the places to be assigned to them. In addition to its other uses, which were part of the Indian and Central Asian heritage in China, the function of the icon as a sacred object endowed with magical potency acquired special importance.

Keywords: Buddhist art; Central Asian heritage; China; Kauśāmbī; King Udyāna; sandalwood image; Vinaya; wall paintings

10.1163/9789004263291_019
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