Art of South, East, and Southeast Asia

Concurrent Dates

563-483 BCE The Buddha
499-479 BCE The Persian Wars
326 CE Alexander the Great Reaches the Indus River
325 CE Council of Nicea
476 CE Rome falls
1337 CE The Hundred Year’s War begins

Target Concepts

  • Religions rooted in the East seek an end or escape from the karmic cycle or reincarnation
  • Buddhism begins in India but spreads throughout the East
  • As Buddhism spreads, so does its artistic and architectural styles
  • Abstraction is frequently the answer when a culture wishes to depict the supernatural
  • Eastern art heavily relies on iconography to convey a message
  • Eastern art has its own canon and style that differs from the West
  • When there is contact between the East and West, artistic styles influence one another
  • Vectors of contact have included military conquest, the Silk Road, colonialism, and trade

Buddhist Art

Reincarnation, karma

Buddhism and the Buddha

Great Stupa at Sanchi
India, 4th century BCE 50’ tall
King Ashoka, Circumambulation, torana, Yakshi

Seated Buddha, Gandhara style
Pakistan, 2nd century CE stone 2’
Urna, ushnisha

The Life and Death of the Buddha
Pakistan, 2nd century CE, schist 2’ x 9’
Bondi Tree, Sarnath

The Silk Road

Colossal Buddha of Bamiyan
Afghanistan, 2nd century CE 180’ tall

Seated Buddha preaching the first sermon
India, 5th century CE, tan sandstone 5’ high
Mathura Style

Longmen Caves
China, 5th – 12th century CE limestone
Vairocana Buddha, Nio

Jowo Rinpoche
Tibet, 7th century CE gilt metals with semiprecious stones, pearls, and paint

Daibutsuden (Kondo) of the Todai-ji complex
Japan, 8th century CE, rebuilt 18th century CE, wood, bronze, and ceramic tiles
Curtain walls, modular, mortise and tenon

  • The Great Buddha of Todai-ji
  • Gate and Nio Guardian Statue of Todai-ji

Borobudur Temple
Indonesia, 9th century CE volcanic stone masonry

Ryoan-ji Gardens
Japan, 15th century CE                      
Zen Buddhism

Hindu Art

Shiva, Vishnu, Devi, avatar

Lakshmana Temple
India, 10th century CE
Plinth, Tantric Hinduism

Shiva as Lord of Dance (Nataraja)
India, 11th century CE bronze
Mandorla or Nimbus

The temple of Angkor Wat
Cambodia, 15th century CE stone masonry, sandstone

  • Churning of the Ocean of Milk
  • Jayavarman Vii as Buddha

Art of other Traditions

Terra Cotta warriors from mausoleum of the first Qin emperor of China
China, 3rd century BCE painted terra cotta life-size figures

Funeral Banner of Lady Dai (Xin Zhui)
China, 2nd century BCE painted silk 6’8” tall

Gold and Jade Crown
Korea, Three Kingdoms Period 6th century CE metalwork 11″ high

Travelers among Mountains and Streams, Fan Kuan
China, 11th century CE hanging scroll, ink and colors on silk detail 3’ high, entire scroll is 7’ high by 3’ wide

Night Attack on the Sanjo Palace
Japan, 14th century CE Hand scroll, ink and colors on paper 16” high
Hand scroll

The David Vases
China, 14th century CE white porcelain with cobalt-blue underglaze
Porcelain, underglaze

Portrait of Shin Sukju
Korea, 15th century CE hanging scroll (ink and color on silk)

Imperial Palace (The Forbidden City)
China, 15th century CE and later, stone masonry, marble, brick, wood, and ceramic tile
Feng Shui

White and Red Plum Blossoms, Ogata Korin
18th century CE ink, watercolor, and gold leaf on paper

The Great Wave off Kanagawa, Katsushika Hokusai
From Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji series
Japan, 19th century CE polychrome woodblock print 10”x1’

Chairman Mao en Route to Anyuan, based on a painting by Liu Chunhua
China, 20th century CE color lithograph

  • The Great Stupa
  • Yakshi
  • Meditating Buddha from Gandhara
  • The Life and Death of the Buddha
  • Colossal Buddha of Bamiyan
  • Seated Buddha preaching the first sermon
  • Longmen Caves
  • Bodhisattva and Nio
  • Jowo Rinpoche
  • Daibutsuden of Todai-Ji
  • Great Buddha of Todai Ji
  • Tirana of Todai Ji
  • Nio from Todai Ji
  • Borobudur Temple
  • Ryoan Ji Gardens, dry
  • Ryoan Ji Gardens, wet
  • Lakshmana Temple
  • Shiva as Lord of Dance
  • Angkor Wat
  • Churning of the Ocean of Milk
  • Jayavarman VII as Buddha
  • Terra Cotta Army of Emperor Qin
  • Funeral Banner of Lady Dai
  • Gold and Jade Crown
  • Travelers among Mountains and Streams
  • Night Attack on the Sanjo Palace
  • The David Vases
  • Portrait of Shin Sukju
  • Imperial Palace
  • White and Red Plum Blossoms
  • The Great Wave
  • Chairman Mao en Route to Anyuan
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