AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 560

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Session 560: From Horseriders to Buddhist Devotees: China, Korea, and Japan at the Intersection of Visual Culture in the 5th-7th Centuries

Organizer: Junghee Lee, Portland State University, USA

Discussant: Shawn R. Eichman, Honolulu Academy of Arts, USA

From Horseriders to Buddhist Devotees: China, Korea, and Japan at the Intersection of Visual Culture in the 5th-7th Centuries Scholars have long acknowledged the intensity and complexity of the visual cultural interactions between China, Korea, and Japan in the fifth to seventh centuries. Recent archaeological discoveries confirm and further illuminate the pivotal roles played by the kingdoms on the Korean peninsula, not only as independent nations that both collaborated with and challenged the dynasties in China, but as active mediators in the movement of people, information, and trade goods across Northeast and Southeast Asia. This mediation occurred both within the Korean peninsula and abroad, and both at the kingdom level and among individual artisans. This panel presents four papers providing an in-depth analysis of particular examples of this region-wide intersection of visual culture within East Asian Kingdoms. For Akiko Walley and Ho-Tae Jeon, immigrant groups are keys to the formation of decorative styles and techniques which were adapted and refined, rather than simply copied, in Japan and Korea. Junghee Lee similarly discusses the international influences present in the Tamamushi Shrine in Japan, while noting specific techniques which were clearly the work of imported artisans. Youn-mi Kim takes up the issue of cultural intent in the popular rise of twin pagodas in the seventh century, and analyzes how the identical forms carried different meaning across international borders.

Hungry Tigress and Beetle Wings Crossing the Sea: Chinese and Korean Sources for the Tamamushi Shrine
Junghee Lee, Portland State University, USA

Recent archaeological discoveries of the third-sixth century horse riders’ tombs of Murong Xianbei in Liaoning province indicate their direct influence on metal works found abundantly in the tombs of Koguryo, Silla, Kaya, and Paekche, ranging from gold girdles and headdresses to iron armor and saddle bows. In turn the metal works of Korean horse riders were found in Kofun tombs, and Korean Buddhist works were found in Asuka and Hakuho period temples in Japan, indicating the movement of artists from Korea to Japan as diplomatic and cultural exchanges were established despite concurrent wars. A good example of this connection in the visual culture of Northeast Asia is the Tamamushi shrine in Japan, which displays styles and techniques imported from China and Korea. The closest prototypes of motifs in open-work metal and the iridescent beetle wings underneath the Tamamushi shrine are found in metal works from Silla and Paekche. According to Uehara Kazu, Tamamushi shrine painting shows the influence of Chinese wall painting style and iconography, but judging from the similarities with Koguryo tomb murals, such as the fluttering wings of birds, landscapes, and decorative patterns, they more importantly suggest the possible direct involvement of Korean artists. Thus not only was visual culture both fluid and changing throughout Northeast Asia, but the Tamamushi shrine serves as direct evidence of the work of artists who moved from Korea to Japan.

The Birth of the Buddha Master: Shiba, Kuratsukuri, and the Dynamics of Immigrant Artisan Communities in Asuka Period Japan
Akiko Walley, University of Oregon, USA

Among the immigrant populations from the Korean Peninsula that sustained the early growth of Buddhism on the Japanese archipelago, an artisan group referred to in early documents as the Shiba no Kuratsukuri seems to have played a key role in the production of Buddhist material culture. Originally saddlers, this group is believed to have possessed metalworking skills that proved valuable in creating Buddhist objects. However, it is still unclear as to exactly why and how they transitioned from saddlemaking to Buddhist image manufacture. This paper will argue that the Shiba no Kuratsukuri emerged as a new group of Buddhist specialists through some form of merger between two older immigrant groups: the Shiba, a clan of lower-ranking bureaucrats in charge of foreign relations, and the Kuratsukuri, an artisan guild of saddlers. The rise of the Shiba no Kuratsukuri sheds light on the complex dynamics of immigrant communities in the Asuka period, communities that included temporary residents, new settlers, and old families who—like their “Yamato-native” colleagues—had never sat foot on the Continent. This paper underlines the need within the immigrant groups to assert their identities as representatives of continental culture in order to remain politically relevant in a period when knowledge of the Continent meant power. Further, this paper elucidates the place of immigrants in the reproduction of Continental material culture on the Japanese archipelago.

Identical Twins?: Early Twin Pagodas of China and Korea
Youn-mi Kim, Yale University, USA

Twin pagodas demonstrate how a certain architectural vocabulary gained popularity, spread to different regions of East Asia, and was modified under different social contexts. What is the meaning of the single versus the twin in visual culture? A definition of twin involving a duplicated form—but unrelated to mass-production—has not yet been fully studied. Twin pagodas suddenly gained popularity in East Asia in the seventh century, and the format has been understood as a simple doubling of single pagodas in monastery plans, with the east and west pagodas assumed to be identical twins. This paper shows that imperial patronage of huge twin pagodas in the Sui dynasty capital triggered their sudden popularity and further, that these pagodas were related to commemoration of the imperial couple. When twin pagodas were imported to the Korean peninsula in the 670s, however, their new ritual and political context transformed them into a thaumaturgic symbol of state protection. Further research of the reliquary sets of Kamunsa twin pagodas, the second earliest example in Korea, suggests that two functions converged into different but interrelated symbols—the twin eastern and western reliquaries respectively represented state protection and the Western Pure Land. Thus combining local history and legend, the twin pagodas of Kamunsa reflect their patrons’ wish to send the demised King Munmu, who wanted to be reborn as a dragon king defending his state, to the Western Pure Land.

Han Dynasty Traditions and the Emergence of the Koguryo Tomb Murals
Ho Tae Jeon, University of Ulsan, South Korea

Beginning in the third century, Koguryo came in touch with Chinese political structure and culture much more frequently than previous period. After the decline of the Eastern Han in China and the emergence of the Three Kingdoms in Korea, Chinese refugees came to Liaodong, and some moved on to Koguryo and Lelang. Chinese artists working on tomb murals and bas-reliefs in Shandong and Henan province seem to have emigrated to Liaodong or Koguryo, and the Liaoyang tomb murals of the Han, Wei, and Six Dynasties periods must also have been created by them. Early Koguryo tomb murals from Pyongyang and Anak area share some elements in subject and method with the tomb bas-reliefs and murals of Liaoyang and of Shandong and Henan provinces. A few tomb murals from Anak and from the T’aesongri tombs at Namp’o are the prime examples. The influence of the Chinese artists is evident in the stone materials used to build tombs, the refinement of the material, the structure of mural tombs, the finishing of stone parts in the chamber, main decorative patterns, and the composition and layout of mural paintings. However, as Koguryo adopted tomb murals and began producing their own examples, the influences of Chinese funerary art traditions began to decline rapidly. Even so, the newly emerging Chinese funerary art style was adopted from time to time by Koguryo and continued to have a positive influence on Koguryo's cultural and aesthetic traditions.