Ceramic created by the Jomon people of ancient Japan, 14,000 - 300 B.C. The earliest Japanese art bears no resemblance of what was to come later. The early Japanese ceramics were both striking and unprecedented. The following excerpt was written by the scholar Gina Barnes: “Many prehistoric cultures around the world have produced ceramic representations of the human figure. Interestingly, the earliest ceramic figurines date to the Paleolithic (prior to 10,000 BC) in cultures not having pottery vessels. In contrast, Jomon Japan (14,000-300 BC) has the earliest ceramic vessels in the world as well as a rich material culture of which figurines form a large part. “
Artist spotlight: Jōchō Busshi (定朝), Japanese sculptor of the Heian period, died 1057 AD.
He popularized the yosegi technique of sculpting a single figure out of many pieces of wood, and he redefined the canon used to create Buddhist imagery. His style spread across Japan and defined Japanese sculpture for the next 150 years. Today, art historians cite Jōchō as “the first of a new kind of master sculptor” and “one of the most innovative artists Japan has ever produced”.
The work shown above, Amida Nyorai, by Jōchō, measures 295cm high, dates to 1053, is made of wood covered in gold leaf, and is currently located at the Phoenix Hall (Byōdō-in), a Buddhist temple in the city of Uji in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan.
Amida Nyorai is unfortunately the only authentic example of Jōchō’s work still extant. The expression of the image, which is tender and merciful, differs from that of older statues in that the eyes are directed down toward the worshiper, establishing a direct and intimate psychological relationship between him and the Buddha.
Photo taken by Kosigrim
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