The Medieval World, C. 400–1300

Japanese Art Until C. 1400

How did Buddhism influence Japanese art?

Pure Land Buddhism {Jodo in Japanese) was the primary form of Buddhism in Japan, as well as China, coming to particular prominence during the Heian Period. Jodo remains the most popular type of Buddhism in Japan. The Amitabha Buddha, known in Japan as Amida Buddha, was an important subject in sculpture and painting, as was the concept of paradise.

Esoteric Buddhism was also important in Japan, where it was called Mikkyo. Highly influenced by Hinduism, Esoteric Buddhism is hierarchical and features many complex deities. An important visual element of Esoteric Buddhism are mandaras (mandalas in Sanskrit), cosmic diagrams of the universe used in ritual, meditation, and teaching. The Womb WorldMandara from the Heian period, is one of the oldest and most well-preserved Japanese examples. The work is filled with images of gods and buddhas, and a central image of Dainichi, the universal Buddha. Some of the gods have multiple heads and limbs, and many hold lightning bolts, which symbolize the power of the mind.


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