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Exhibition of Buddhism Statue in Chang′an
Author:Supper    publish:2018-8-29 15:35:02    view:2619


    Buddhism was introduced to China at the first century. Buddhism statue, as the object for propaganda of Buddhism, consecrating and praying of seguidors, is the important constituent part of Buddhist culture, with rich content and various forms. Earlier Buddhist temple in Chang’an (Xi’an nowadays) appeared in Western Jin Dynasty, and developed into the center of Buddhist culture in the Northern Dynasties gradually. Eight great Buddhist sects appeared in Tang Dynasty, in which, the ancestral courts of other six great Buddhist sects were at Chang’an, except for Tiantai sect and the Chan sect. Up to now, Da Xing-shan Temple, Temple of Thanksgiving, Huayan Temple, Caotang Temple, Xiangji Temple, JingYe temple and other temples are existed. Remains of Buddhist statues are quite rich because of the important position of Xi’an city in the history of Buddhist. So far, thousand statues from Sixteen States Dynasty to Qing Dynasty have been found.


Treasure hunt guide:

Part I.  Statues Made in the Sixteen States and the Northern Dynasty

    According to Literature, Buddhist temples appeared in Chang’an during the period of Western Jin Dynasty(265-316), and boomed in the Sixteen States and the Northern Dynasties. Chang’an became the center of Buddhist culture in the north of China at that time soon. In this period, most of the statues were single Buddha statues or statues on stele, which were moved easily and suitable for offerings alone and most were placed in temples or family halls for worshipping Buddha. Because the metal technique was quite developed at that time, bronze statues prevailed, especially the large number of small gilded statues. The configuration of Buddha statues in this period was characterized by strong foreign style in harmony with traditional Chinese aesthetic consciousness. In the early period, the statues were elegant and dignified, with the beauty of combination of stiffness and flexiblility; in the middle period, the statues were of elegance and beauty with straight bridge of nose and slender body under the influence of the style of Buddha statues with “ thin and elongated” in south China. In the later period, statues were well-rounded in face, limbs and body were clear, and the lines of clothes were plain. Bodies were wrapped closely by clothes with over-elaborate baldrics. All these embodied the trend to transit to the style of the Sui and Tang dynasties. 


Part II. Statues Made in the Sui and Tang Dynasties

    In the Sui and Tang dynasties, temple construction was on an unprecedented grand occasion. After Emperor Wen of Sui Dynasty ascended the throne, he advocated Buddhism vigorously. He ordered the common people to make many Buddha statues, and absorb monks and nuns. In the course of construction of the Daxing, he planned to build up 120 temples, and promised to appoint the people who could construct them. In the Tang Dynasty, there were eight great Buddhist schools. Each sect had own patriarchal courts in ancient Chang'an city. The ancestral courts of other six great Buddhist schools were at Chang’an, except for Tiantai sect and the Chan sect. According to the record of Textual Research on Chang’an and Luoyang of the Tang Dynasty, there were 122 temples and 31 nunneries verifiable in ancient Chang'an city at the Tang Dynasty. As for Buddha statues in this period, some in earlier stage were still characterized by style of the Northern Dynasties. Later on, the style became mature and the statues were completely in Chinese style with reasonable proportion of head and body, fullness face, well-proportioned face and confidence at the flourishing Tang Dynasty. In the late stage, the style appeared reserved and rigid, with accurate modeling, appropriate proportion and skilled handcraft, thus the statues were in tendency of realism and secularization.  


Part III. Statues Made in the Song Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty,Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty

    Since the Song Dynasty, social consciousness has tended to realism with the development of the Neo-Confucian sect and flourishing of commerce. So traditional statue-making standard belittled and the number of Buddha statues turned less and less, and the dispirited situation appeared. While most Buddha statues made in the Song Dynasty and Yuan Dynasty were elaborately carved and ground. They were in broad and succinct outline of dressing, with reasonable proportion of body conformation. The carving technique kept the relique of the Tang Dynasty, with the succinct, dignified, simple and unadorned style. In the Ming Dynasty, statues carried on the art style of the Song and Yuan Dynasties, with round knife skill and smooth line but with rough handcraft and dull layout and lack of vigor. Statues in the Qing Dynasty were stately symmetry in figure, with constantly prettified skill, realistic techniques, and magnificent decoration. They showed naturalism but slightly rigid, and lacked of inner charm and vigor.  

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