The Mediating Mind: Image, Text, and Ritual in the Cave of Perfect Enlightenment at Baodingshan, Dazu

The Mediating Mind: Image, Text, and Ritual in the Cave of Perfect Enlightenment at Baodingshan,... Drawing on the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment (Yuanjuejing) and repentance liturgies such as Zongmi's Manual for Cultivating Realization in the Place of Practice of the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment (Yuanjuejing daochang xiuzheng yi), this essay examines the visual program of the Southern Song–dynasty Cave of Perfect Enlightenment (Yuanjuedong) at Baodingshan, Dazu. It argues that the cave serves not as an arena for ritual practice per se but instead presents an idealized representation of such a site. In particular, this essay focuses on the conceptual function of the sculpture of the kneeling bodhisattva in the middle of the cave, a figure that finds no exact counterpart in scriptural sources. Investigating the significance of such figures that mediate between worshippers and their deities in various media in the Song, this essay contends that the kneeling bodhisattva not only enacts perpetual reverence on behalf of absent worshippers but also solicits spectatorial self-identification, enabling viewers to imagine themselves into the representational world of scriptural narrative and liturgical practice constructed in the cave. This essay then interrogates the triangular relationship between illusion, matter, and the mind that is thematized in the cave and in liturgies like that by Zongmi. Engaging with Hans Belting's recent work on image anthropology, this essay concludes by suggesting that the cave, its source texts, and related repentance rituals collectively insist on the fundamental irrelevance of all media save the mind itself. Such a notion points to the need to develop a specifically Buddhist theory of images, media, and minds. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Archives of Asian Art Duke University Press

The Mediating Mind: Image, Text, and Ritual in the Cave of Perfect Enlightenment at Baodingshan, Dazu

Archives of Asian Art, Volume 68 (1) – Apr 1, 2018

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Copyright
Copyright © 2018 Asia Society
ISSN
0066-6637
eISSN
1944-6497
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1215/00666637-4342420
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Drawing on the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment (Yuanjuejing) and repentance liturgies such as Zongmi's Manual for Cultivating Realization in the Place of Practice of the Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment (Yuanjuejing daochang xiuzheng yi), this essay examines the visual program of the Southern Song–dynasty Cave of Perfect Enlightenment (Yuanjuedong) at Baodingshan, Dazu. It argues that the cave serves not as an arena for ritual practice per se but instead presents an idealized representation of such a site. In particular, this essay focuses on the conceptual function of the sculpture of the kneeling bodhisattva in the middle of the cave, a figure that finds no exact counterpart in scriptural sources. Investigating the significance of such figures that mediate between worshippers and their deities in various media in the Song, this essay contends that the kneeling bodhisattva not only enacts perpetual reverence on behalf of absent worshippers but also solicits spectatorial self-identification, enabling viewers to imagine themselves into the representational world of scriptural narrative and liturgical practice constructed in the cave. This essay then interrogates the triangular relationship between illusion, matter, and the mind that is thematized in the cave and in liturgies like that by Zongmi. Engaging with Hans Belting's recent work on image anthropology, this essay concludes by suggesting that the cave, its source texts, and related repentance rituals collectively insist on the fundamental irrelevance of all media save the mind itself. Such a notion points to the need to develop a specifically Buddhist theory of images, media, and minds.

Journal

Archives of Asian ArtDuke University Press

Published: Apr 1, 2018

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