12 May Japanese Buddhist Sculptures at Scuderie del Quirinale
Buddhism and Buddhist culture were introduced to Japan through the Korean peninsula in the 6th century. Since the 7th century, a number of cultural objects were imported directly from China via exchanges when Japanese envoys were sent to China during the Sui and Tang Dynasties. As the result of the above history, Tempyo Culture was affected by the international influences of Tang Dynasty art and flourished in the 8th century in the former capital city of Heijo-kyo (present-day Nara).
In the 10th century, politics in East Asia lost its stability as the Tang Dynasty was overthrown. A strengthened Japanese national identity during this period helped Japanese art gained more of a unique flavor. From the 11th to the 12th centuries, Japanese artists continued to study the artistic style of the Five Dynasties and the Song Dynasty, but transformed the Chinese traditions to reflecting their own national tastes based on the Japanese sense of beauty, which values elegance over all. This was especially true in Kyoto, which had become the capital city by then.
Japanese artistic style changed dramatically at the end of the 12th century when the Kamakura Period began. During the Kamakura Period, the samurai caste gained much political influence. The rise of these warriors added complexity to the Japanese political system. Many temples in Nara that had strong political power at that time were set on fire and many pieces of Buddhist art were destroyed. This directly led to social change. Shocked by the destruction of culture, members of Japanese society, from politicians to the general public, became convinced that they lived in the Mappō Era, or the degenerate age of Buddhism. This spurred a renewed study of Buddhism so that society could regain the Buddhist values it had lost. Many pieces of Buddhist art were also created during this time.
Buddhist culture continued to prosper throughout the Asuka and Kamakura Periods between the 7th and the 14th centuries. Many of the numerous Buddhist sculptures created then have survived until now.
Sculptures made through the Nara Period in the 8th century were directly influenced by Tang Dynasty China, but we can also find a hint of a unique Japanese quality in the subtlety of the work.
The early half of the Heian Period from the 8th to the 10th centuries saw the creation of many vibrant works of art based on Esoteric Buddhism, a religion that had been introduced to Japan then. In contrast, art in the latter half of the Heian Period from the 10th to the 12th centuries exhibited the quiet beauty that was considered the most Japanese quality in the history of Japanese art.
The Buddhist sculptures became more realistic and expressed strength in the Kamakura Period from the 12th to the 14th centuries; the richness allowed the works to serve as epitomes of Japanese sculpture.
Since the Heian period, Japanese sculptures have almost always been created from wood. Hinoki and Kaya woods are mainly selected. The fine grain and beautiful texture of the woods give the sculptures a smooth finish and allows for exquisite details without compromising strength―an attractive quality for enthusiasts of Japanese sculpture.
SCUDERIE DEL QUIRINALE
15 min (1,2 km)
Via Ventiquattro Maggio, 16
Ph +39 06 39967500
Capolavori della scultura buddista giapponese.
From July 30th to September 4th, 2016
Sunday to Thursday 10:00 – 20:00
Friday and Saturday 10:00 – 22:30pm
last admission one hour before closing time