Explaining Pictures: Buddhist Propaganda and Etoki Storytelling in Japan

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9780824826970: Explaining Pictures: Buddhist Propaganda and Etoki Storytelling in Japan

Beginning with the 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, whose performances were especially edifying to female audiences, 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.
Explaining Pictures is the first book-length study in English devoted to the phenomenon of Buddhist art as religious propaganda and pictorial storytelling as a form of popular culture in medieval Japan. A truly interdisciplinary study, it suggests fruitful avenues of discussion between art historians and historians of Japanese Buddhism. Scholars and students with an interest in Japanese Buddhism, art, and social and cultural history will find its examination of significant issues fresh and stimulating. It will also find an appreciative audience among those concerned with the relationship between art and religion, the mechanics of proselytization, and Asian visual culture.

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About the Author:

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

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Kaminishi, Ikumi
Published by University of Hawaii Press (2006)
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Ikumi Kaminishi
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