Explaining Pictures: Buddhist Propaganda And Etoki Storytelling in Japan

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University of Hawaii Press, 2006 - Art - 246 pages
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Early Japanese Buddhism patronized the literate classes and remained a prerogative of the elite until the end of the twelfth century. With the fiscal and political decline of its aristocratic patrons, the Buddhist establishment turned to lay commoners and women--two groups previously excluded from the benefits of the Dharma--for financial support, using paintings to accommodate its new, and often subliterate, audiences. This type of preaching, known as etoki (pictorial decipherment), helped bridge the worlds of esoteric Buddhism and lay practice and reveals much about the role of art in the context of didactic storytelling and proselytization. Beginning with the provocative claim that the popularization of Buddhism in the medieval period was a phenomenon of visual culture, Explaining Pictures reexamines the history (and historiography) of medieval Japanese Buddhism. With theoretical sophistication and a full appreciation of the power of imagery to convey and control religious meaning, it investigates a range of aspects of etoki, including the particularly active role of itinerant nuns as well as the visual hagiography of the reputed founder of Japanese Buddhism, the pictorial projections of Buddhist paradise and hell, and the explanation, through visual imagery, of sacred mountains.
 

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Contents

Etoki in History
19
Deciphering the Founder of Japanese Buddhism
31
Pure Land Buddhism and Etoki LATE 12TH14TH CENTURIES
55
Deciphering Pure Land Imagery
57
Etoki as a Pure Land Method of Proselytization
74
Images of Itinerant Etoki 14TH16TH CENTURIES
101
Itinerant Etoki Solicitors of Buddhism
103
Women and Sacred Mountains 17TH19TH CENTURIES
135
Kumano Images and Propaganda for Women
137
Deciphering Mountain Worship
165
Conclusion
193
Notes
197
Bibliography
225
Index
241
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Page 6 - A real translation is transparent; it does not cover the original, does not block its light, but allows the pure language, as though reinforced by its own medium, to shine upon the original all the more fully.
Page 8 - ... the Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide (Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith), a committee of cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church that Pope Gregory XV founded in 1622 to oversee the jurisdiction of missionary territories in foreign countries. In this context, propaganda's literal meaning, "extension," is used in naming a religious office that took care of the missionary work of "propagating

About the author (2006)

Ikumi Kaminishi is an associate professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Tufts University.

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