Narrative Visions and Visual Narratives in Indian Buddhism - Naomi Appleton

Narrative Visions and Visual Narratives in Indian Buddhism - Naomi Appleton

4. Visualizing a Teaching: Sermon Scenes in Kucha

Narrative Visions and Visual Narratives in Indian Buddhism - Naomi Appleton

Monika Zin [+-]
Leipzig University
Monika Zin studied Art History, Indology and Dramatics in Krakow and Munich. Between 1994 and 2016 she taught Indian Art History in Munich at the Institute of Indology, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität. Since April 2016 Professor Zin is team leader of the Research Centre “Buddhist Murals of Kucha on the Northern Silk Road” at the Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Leipzig. Her scholarly contributions include numerous articles on the identification of narratives in early Indian Art and several monographs: Ajanta – Handbuch der Malereien, 2: Devotionale und ornamentale Malereien (2003, English version to be published by IGNCA), Mitleid und Wunderkraft. Schwierige Bekehrungen und ihre Ikonographie im indischen Buddhismus (2006), Saṃsāracakra (2007, with Dieter Schlingloff), The Kanaganahalli Stūpa (2018) and Representations of the Parinirvāṇa Story Cycle in Kucha (2020).

Description

Moving from text to art, this chapter seeks to explore the role of images and imagery through a study of one of the most interesting early Buddhist artistic sites. Nowhere else in the Buddhist world are so many narratives illustrated as in the cave temples in Kucha. Jātakas, conversion stories, venerations of the Buddha(s), praṇidhis, scenes from the Buddha’s life, particularly from the parinirvāṇa cycle, and Maitreya preaching in Tuṣita heaven – we find as many as 100 narrative representations in a single cave. The settings of depictions located indoors are preset, and they reoccur in the settled iconography. The jātakas are usually reduced to the single most dramatic moment of action. This is often also the case for scenes including the Buddha, but not for all. The sophisticated pictorial conventions make it possible to represent complex contents, even when the manner of depiction is very minimalistic. One pictorial unit can incorporate portrayals of the same person in different rebirths, or an illustration of the very narrative about which the Buddha, depicted in the same scene, is preaching. These considerations shed light on how images of narratives were being used at this key site, with wider implications for our study of Buddhist narrative art.

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Citation

Zin, Monika. 4. Visualizing a Teaching: Sermon Scenes in Kucha. Narrative Visions and Visual Narratives in Indian Buddhism. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 88-125 Apr 2022. ISBN 9781800501317. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=39990. Date accessed: 05 Dec 2022 doi: 10.1558/equinox.39990. Apr 2022

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