The Tang dynasty or the Tang Empire was an imperial dynasty of China spanning the 7th to 10th centuries. It was followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. Historians regard the Tang as a high point in Chinese civilization, a golden age of cosmopolitan culture. Tang territory, acquired through the military campaigns of its early rulers, rivaled that of the Han dynasty; the Tang capital at Chang'an was the most populous city in the world in its day. The Lǐ family founded the dynasty, seizing power during the collapse of the Sui Empire; the dynasty was interrupted when Empress Wu Zetian seized the throne, proclaiming the Second Zhou dynasty and becoming the only Chinese empress regnant. In two censuses of the 7th and 8th centuries, the Tang records estimated the population by number of registered households at about 50 million people, yet when the central government was breaking down and unable to compile an accurate census of the population in the 9th century, it is estimated that the population had grown by to about 80 million people.
With its large population base, the dynasty was able to raise professional and conscripted armies of hundreds of thousands of troops to contend with nomadic powers in dominating Inner Asia and the lucrative trade-routes along the Silk Road. Various kingdoms and states paid tribute to the Tang court, while the Tang conquered or subdued several regions which it indirectly controlled through a protectorate system. Besides political hegemony, the Tang exerted a powerful cultural influence over neighboring East Asian states such as those in Japan and Korea; the Tang dynasty was a period of progress and stability in the first half of the dynasty's rule, until the An Lushan Rebellion and the decline of central authority in the half of the dynasty. Like the previous Sui dynasty, the Tang dynasty maintained a civil-service system by recruiting scholar-officials through standardized examinations and recommendations to office; the rise of regional military governors known as jiedushi during the 9th century undermined this civil order.
Chinese culture further matured during the Tang era. Two of China's most famous poets, Li Bai and Du Fu, belonged to this age, as did many famous painters such as Han Gan, Zhang Xuan, Zhou Fang. Scholars of this period compiled a rich variety of historical literature, as well as encyclopedias and geographical works; the adoption of the title Tängri Qaghan by the Tang Emperor Taizong in addition to his title as emperor was eastern Asia's first "simultaneous kingship". Many notable innovations occurred including the development of woodblock printing. Buddhism became a major influence with native Chinese sects gaining prominence. However, in the 840s the Emperor Wuzong of Tang enacted policies to persecute Buddhism, which subsequently declined in influence. Although the dynasty and central government had gone into decline by the 9th century and culture continued to flourish; the weakened central government withdrew from managing the economy, but the country's mercantile affairs stayed intact and commercial trade continued to thrive regardless.
However, agrarian rebellions in the latter half of the 9th century resulted in damaging atrocities such as the Guangzhou massacre of 878–879. The Li family belonged to the northwest military aristocracy prevalent during the Sui dynasty and claimed to be paternally descended from the Daoist founder, Laozi the Han dynasty General Li Guang and Western Liang ruler Li Gao; this family was known as the Longxi Li lineage. The Tang Emperors had Xianbei maternal ancestry, from Emperor Gaozu of Tang's Xianbei mother, Duchess Dugu. Li Yuan was Duke of Tang and governor of Taiyuan, modern Shanxi, during the Sui dynasty's collapse, caused in part by the Sui failure to conquer the northern part of the Korean peninsula during the Goguryeo–Sui War, he had prestige and military experience, was a first cousin of Emperor Yang of Sui. Li Yuan rose in rebellion in 617, along with his son and his militant daughter Princess Pingyang, who raised and commanded her own troops. In winter 617, Li Yuan occupied Chang'an, relegated Emperor Yang to the position of Taishang Huang or retired emperor, acted as regent to the puppet child-emperor, Yang You.
On the news of Emperor Yang's murder by General Yuwen Huaji on June 18, 618, Li Yuan declared himself the emperor of a new dynasty, the Tang. Li Yuan, known as Emperor Gaozu of Tang, ruled until 626, when he was forcefully deposed by his son Li Shimin, the Prince of Qin. Li Shimin had commanded troops since the age of 18, had prowess with bow and arrow and lance and was known for his effective cavalry charges. Fighting a numerically superior army, he defeated Dou Jiande at Luoyang in the Battle of Hulao on May 28, 621. In a violent elimination of royal family due to fear of assassination, Li Shimin ambushed and killed two of his brothers, Li Yuanji and Crown prince Li Jiancheng, in the Xuanwu Gate Incident on July 2, 626. Shortly thereafter, his father abdicated in his favor and Li Shimin ascended the throne, he is conventionally known by his temple name Taizong. Although killing two brothers and deposing his father contradicted the Confucian value of filial piety, Taizong showed himself to be a capable leader who listened to the advice of the wisest members of his council.
In 628, Emperor Taizong held a Buddhist memorial service for the casualties of war, in 629 he ha
Shingon Buddhism is one of the major schools of Buddhism in Japan and one of the few surviving Vajrayana lineages in East Asia spread from India to China through traveling monks such as Vajrabodhi and Amoghavajra. Known in Chinese as the Tangmi, these esoteric teachings would flourish in Japan under the auspices of a Buddhist monk named Kūkai, who traveled to Tang China to acquire and request transmission of the esoteric teachings. For that reason, it is called Japanese Esoteric Buddhism, or Orthodox Esoteric Buddhism; the word shingon is the Japanese reading of the Chinese word 真言, the Chinese transcription of the Sanskrit word "mantra". Shingon Buddhist doctrine and teachings arose during the Heian period after a Buddhist monk named Kūkai traveled to China in 804 to study Esoteric Buddhist practices in the city of Xi'an called Chang-an, at Azure Dragon Temple under Huiguo, a favorite student of the legendary Amoghavajra. Kūkai returned to Japan as Huiguo's lineage- and Dharma-successor. Shingon followers refer to Kūkai as Kōbō-Daishi or Odaishi-sama, the posthumous name given to him years after his death by Emperor Daigo.
Before he went to China, Kūkai had been an independent monk in Japan for over a decade. He was well versed in Chinese literature and Buddhist texts. Esoteric Buddhism was not school yet at that time. Huiguo was the first person to gather the still scattered elements of Indian and Chinese Esoteric Buddhism into a cohesive system. A Japanese monk named Gonsō had brought back to Japan from China an esoteric mantra of the bodhisattva Ākāśagarbha, the Kokūzō-gumonjihō, translated from Sanskrit into Chinese by Śubhakarasiṃha; when Kūkai was 22, he learned this mantra from Gonsō and would go into the forests of Shikoku to practice it for long periods of time. He mastered it. According to tradition, this practice brought him siddhis of superhuman memory retention and learning ability. Kūkai would praise the power and efficacy of Kokuzō-Gumonjiho practice, crediting it with enabling him to remember all of Huiguo's teachings in only three months. Kūkai's respect for Ākāśagarbha was so great that he regarded him as his honzon for the rest of his life.
It was during this period of intense mantra practice that Kūkai dreamt of a man telling him to seek out the Mahavairocana Tantra for the doctrine that he sought. The Mahavairocana Tantra had only been made available in Japan, he was able to obtain a copy in Chinese but large portions were in Sanskrit in the Siddhaṃ script, which he did not know, the Chinese portions were too arcane for him to understand. He believed that this teaching was a door to the truth he sought, but he was unable to comprehend it and no one in Japan could help him. Thus, Kūkai resolved to travel to China to spend the time necessary to understand the Mahavairocana Tantra; when Kūkai reached China and first met Huiguo on the fifth month of 805, Huiguo was age sixty and on the verge of death from a long spate of illness. Huiguo exclaimed to Kūkai in Chinese, "At last, you have come! I have been waiting for you! Prepare yourself for initiation into the mandalas!" Huiguo had foreseen that Esoteric Buddhism would not survive in India and China in the near future and that it was Kukai's destiny to see it continue in Japan.
In the short space of three months, Huiguo initiated and taught Kūkai everything he knew on the doctrines and practices of the Mandala of the Two Realms as well as mastery of Sanskrit and Chinese. Huiguo declared Kūkai to be his final disciple and proclaimed him a Dharma successor, giving the lineage name Henjō-Kongō "All-Illuminating Vajra". In the twelfth month of the same year, Huiguo was buried next to his master, Amoghavajra. More than one thousand of his disciples gathered for his funeral; the honor of writing his funerary inscription on their behalf was given to Kūkai. Kukai returned to Japan after Huiguo's death. If he had not, Esoteric Buddhism might not have survived. An avid Daoist, Wuzong despised Buddhism and considered the sangha useless tax-evaders. In 845, he ordered the destruction of 40,000 temples. Around 250,000 Buddhist monks and nuns had to give up their monastic lives. Wuzong stated that Buddhism was an alien religion and promoted Daoism zealously as the ethnic religion of the Han Chinese.
Although Wuzong was soon assassinated by his own inner circle, the damage had been done. Chinese Buddhism Esoteric practices, never recovered from the persecution, esoteric elements were infused into other Buddhist sects and traditions. After returning to Japan, Kūkai collated and systematized all that he had learned from Huiguo into a cohesive doctrine of pure esoteric Buddhism that would become the basis for his school. Kūkai did not establish his teachings as a separate school. Kūkai took on disciples and offered transmission until his death in 835 at the age of 61. Kūkai's first established monastery was in Mount Kōya
Unkei was a Japanese sculptor of the Kei school, which flourished in the Kamakura period. He specialized in statues of other important Buddhist figures. Unkei's early works are traditional, similar in style to pieces by his father, Kōkei. However, the sculptures he produced for the Tōdai-ji in Nara show a flair for realism different from anything Japan had seen before. Today, Unkei is the best known of the Kei artists, many art historians consider him its "most distinguished member". Many extant works are said to be his, but the first that can be attributed to him with any certainty is a Dainichi Nyorai at Enjō-ji in Nara. Unkei was a devout Buddhist, records from 1183 show that he transcribed two copies of the Lotus Sutra with the aid of two calligrapher monks and a woman sponsor named Akomaro. In the works' colophon, Unkei gives the names of all involved in performing the ritual obeisance during the project's duration. Unkei further records that he tallied the lines copied at the end of each day and had devotees bow three times and chant the "august title" and the nembutsu for each one.
In all, Unkei records that "During the copying, the above persons bowed fifty thousand times and the nenbutsu one hundred thousand times, the august title of the Lotus Sutra, one hundred thousand times." In 1203, Unkei worked with Kaikei, two other master sculptors, 16 assistants to create two guardian figures for the gates of the Nandaimon of Tōdai-ji in Nara. The statues, known as the Kongō Rikishi or Niō, are 26 feet tall; the team finished the figures in 72 days using the yosegi technique of sculpting various pieces of wood separately and combining them for the finished product. Sometime between 1208 and 1212, Unkei sculpted a figure of a Miroku Butsu at Tōdai-ji, along with several accompanied figures; these included two bodhisattva, the Shitennō, a pair of Indian rakan named Muchaku and Seshin. Only the Miroku Butsu and rakan still stand today. After the completion of these works and others at the Kōfuku-ji, Unkei moved the Kei school's headquarters to Kyoto. Unkei was chiefly acting in Nara.
However, he traveled to Kamakura sometimes to do commissions for high-ranking samurai and administrators of the shogunate. A late 12th century sculpture of Dainichi Nyorai, attributed to Unkei, sold at auction at Christie's on March 18, 2008 for US$14.37 million, making it the most expensive Japanese art sold. Unkei's early works are similar in style to those of his father, Kōkei, contemporary, Kaikei, they are traditional and show a certain delicateness. The works Unkei sculpted around 1210 for the Hokuendō at Tōdai-ji, on the other hand, are indicative of his developed style. By this time, Unkei had begun to stress realism over tradition and solid, muscular forms over ephemeral, delicate ones. Unkei's Miroku Butsu is in the tradition of previous Buddha figures, including those of his father and Tori Busshi. Like the works of those sculptors, the Buddha is backed by an intricate halo. However, Unkei's work features further strides toward realism. Crystal inlays cause the eyes to shine, details are carved and in new detail.
Furthermore, Unkei's work does not follow the canon of proportions established by Jōchō in the Heian period. Unkei's figure instead has a long torso. Despite this, Unkei's Buddha does not look unwieldy. Rather, it is a lifelike Buddha who seems empathic. In essence, Unkei created a new style of sculpture; this new realism is evident in Unkei's non-Buddha statuary. His Kongō Rikishi guardians stand contrapposto with dramatic stances, their musculature, though anatomically incorrect, is well detailed, making them appear to be in mid-movement. These Niō reflect the warrior samurai ideals to which Unkei was exposed in Kamakura. Unkei's rakan figures and Seshin, take this realism to an higher level, making the figures appear portrait-like. Both statues sport priestly vestments that frame their bodies realistically, they stand life-size and alone and are sculpted in the round as if intended to be viewed from any angle. Mujaku is depicted as a thin man manipulating some sort of cloth-wrapped object, he appears reflective.
Seshin, in contrast, is depicted in mid conversation and speaking, an extroverted counterweight to the solemn Mujaku. The men are shown as specific people, not members of a stock type. Due to the collaborative nature of sculpture in this period, it is difficult to determine how much of this innovation can be credited to Unkei personally. Regardless of, responsible, this new style was adopted by Unkei's followers and descendants, including his sons Tankei, Kōun, Kōben, Kōshō, carried on until the mid-Kamakura period. Kōben and Kōshō would take Unkei's style to new extremes. List of National Treasures of Japan Dainichi Nyorai Kei school Mason, Penelope. History of Japanese Art. 2nd ed, rev. by Dinwiddie, Donald. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc. Noma, Seiroku; the Arts of Japan: Ancient and Medieval. Kodansha International. Paine, Robert Treat, Soper, Alexander; the Art and Architecture of Japan. 3rd ed. Penguin Books Ltd. Stone, Jacqueline I.. "Chanting the August Title of the Lotus Sutra: Daimoku: Practices in Classical and Medieval Japan".
Re-visioning "Kamakura" Buddhism
A temple is a structure reserved for religious or spiritual rituals and activities such as prayer and sacrifice. It is used for such buildings belonging to all faiths where a more specific term such as church, mosque or synagogue is not used in English; these include Hinduism and Jainism among religions with many modern followers, as well as other ancient religions such as Ancient Egyptian religion. The form and function of temples is thus variable, though they are considered by believers to be in some sense the "house" of one or more deities. Offerings of some sort are made to the deity, other rituals enacted, a special group of clergy maintain, operate the temple; the degree to which the whole population of believers can access the building varies significantly. Temples have a main building and a larger precinct, which may contain many other buildings, or may be a dome shaped structure, much like an igloo; the word comes from Ancient Rome, where a templum constituted a sacred precinct as defined by a priest, or augur.
It has the same root as the word "template", a plan in preparation of the building, marked out on the ground by the augur. Templa became associated with the dwelling places of a god or gods. Despite the specific set of meanings associated with the word, it has now become used to describe a house of worship for any number of religions and is used for time periods prior to the Romans; the temple-building tradition of Mesopotamia derived from the cults of gods and deities in the Mesopotamian religion. It spanned several civilizations; the most common temple architecture of Mesopotamia is the structure of sun-baked bricks called a Ziggurat, having the form of a terraced step pyramid with a flat upper terrace where the shrine or temple stood. Ancient Egyptian temples were meant as places for the deities to reside on earth. Indeed, the term the Egyptians most used to describe the temple building, ḥwt-nṯr, means "mansion of a god". A god's presence in the temple linked the human and divine realms and allowed humans to interact with the god through ritual.
These rituals, it was believed, sustained the god and allowed it to continue to play its proper role in nature. They were therefore a key part of the maintenance of maat, the ideal order of nature and of human society in Egyptian belief. Maintaining maat was the entire purpose of Egyptian religion, thus it was the purpose of a temple as well. Ancient Egyptian temples were of economic significance to Egyptian society; the temples stored and redistributed grain and came to own large portions of the nation's arable land. In addition, many of these Egyptian temples utilized the Tripartite Floor Plan in order to draw visitors to the center room. Though today we call most Greek religious buildings "temples," the ancient Greeks would have referred to a temenos, or sacred precinct, its sacredness connected with a holy grove, was more important than the building itself, as it contained the open air altar on which the sacrifices were made. The building which housed the cult statue in its naos was a rather simple structure, but by the middle of the 6th century BCE had become elaborate.
Greek temple architecture had a profound influence on ancient architectural traditions. The rituals that located and sited Roman temples were performed by an augur through the observation of the flight of birds or other natural phenomenon. Roman temples faced east or toward the rising sun, but the specifics of the orientation are not known today. In ancient Rome only the native deities of Roman mythology had a templum; the Romans referred to a holy place of a pagan religion as fanum. Medieval Latin writers sometimes used the word templum reserved for temples of the ancient Roman religion. In some cases it is hard to determine whether a temple was an outdoor shrine. For temple buildings of the Vikings, the Old Norse term hof is used. A Zoroastrian temple may be called a Dar-e-mehr and a Atashkadeh. A fire temple in Zoroastrianism is the place of worship for Zoroastrians. Zoroastrians revere fire in any form, their temples contains an eternal flame, with Atash Behram as the highest grade of all, as it combines 16 different types of fire gathered in elaborate rituals.
In the Zoroastrian religion, together with clean water, are agents of ritual purity. Clean, white "ash for the purification ceremonies is regarded as the basis of ritual life," which, "are the rites proper to the tending of a domestic fire, for the temple fire is that of the hearth fire raised to a new solemnity". Hindu temples are known by many different names, varying on region and language, including Alayam, Mandira, Gudi, Koil, Kovil, Déul, Devasthana, Deva Mandiraya and Devalaya. A Hindu temple is the seat and dwelling of Hindu gods, it is a structure designed to bring human gods together according to Hindu faith. Inside its Garbhagriha innermost sanctum, a Hindu temple contains a Hindu god's image. Hindu temples are magnificent with a rich history. There is evidence of use of sacred ground as far back as the Bronze Age and during the Indus Valley Civilization. Outside of the Indian subcontinent (India
The nijūmon is one of two types of two-story gate presently used in Japan, can be found at most Japanese Buddhist temples. This gate is distinguishable from its relative by the roof above the first floor which skirts the entire upper story, absent in a rōmon. Accordingly, it has a series of brackets supporting the roof's eaves both at the first and at the second story. In a rōmon, the brackets support a balcony; the tokyō are three-stepped with tail rafters at the third step. A nijūmon is covered by a hip-and-gable roof. Unlike a rōmon, whose second story is inaccessible and unusable, a nijūmon has stairs leading to the second story; some gates have at their ends 2 x 1 bay structures housing the stairs. The second story of a nijūmon contains statues of Shakyamuni or of goddess Kannon, of the 16 Rakan, hosts periodical religious ceremonies. Large nijūmon' are 5 bays wide, 2 bays deep and have three entrances, however Tokyo's Zōjō-ji, the Tokugawa clan's funerary temple, has a gate, 5 x 3 bays. Smaller ones are 3 x 2 bays and have one, two or three entrances.
Of all temple gate types, the nujūmon has the highest status, is accordingly used for important gates like the chūmon of ancient temples as Hōryū-ji. The sanmon, the gate of a Zen temple of highest prestige, is a nijūmon; some nijūmon are called chūmon because they are situated between the temple. Some interior images of the second story of a nijūmon, in this case Kōmyō-ji's sanmon in Kamakura, Kanagawa prefecture. Iwanami Nihonshi Jiten, CD-Rom Version. Iwanami Shoten, 1999-2001 "Nijuumon". JAANUS – Japanese Architecture and Art Net User System. Retrieved 2009-06-19. Fujita Masaya, Koga Shūsaku, ed.. Nihon Kenchiku-shi. Shōwa-dō. ISBN 4-8122-9805-9
The karahafu is a type of gable with a style peculiar to Japan. The characteristic shape is the undulating curve at the top; this gable is common in traditional architecture, including Japanese castles, Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines. Roofing materials such as tile and bark may be used as coverings; the face beneath the gable may be flush with the wall below. Although kara can be translated as meaning "China" or "Tang", this type of roof with undulating bargeboards is an invention of Japanese carpenters in the late Heian period, it was named thus because the word kara could mean "noble" or "elegant", was added to names of objects considered grand or intricate regardless of origin. The karahafu developed during the Heian period and is shown in picture scrolls to decorate gates and palanquins; the first known depiction of a karahafu appears on a miniature shrine in Shōryoin shrine at Hōryū-ji in Nara. The karahafu and its building style became popular during the Kamakura and Muromachi period, when Japan witnessed a new wave of influences from the Asian continent.
During the Kamakura period, Zen Buddhism spread to Japan and the karahafu was employed in many Zen temples. The karahafu was used only in temples and aristocratic gateways, but starting from the beginning of the Azuchi–Momoyama period, it became an important architectural element in the construction of a daimyō's mansions and castles; the daimyō's gateway with a karahafu roof was reserved for the shōgun during his onari visits to the retainer, or for the reception of the emperor at shogunate establishments. A structure associated with these social connections imparted special meaning. Gates with a karahafu roof, the karamon, became a means to proclaim the prestige of a building and functioned as a symbol of both religious and secular architecture. In the Tokugawa shogunate, the karamon gates were a powerful symbol of authority reflected in architecture. Karamon Japanese architecture Japanese castle
In Japanese architecture a mokoshi "skirt storey" or "cuff storey", is a decorative pent roof surrounding a building below the true roof. Since it does not correspond to any internal division, the mokoshi gives the impression of there being more floors than there are, it is a ken deep and is most seen in Buddhist temples and pagodas. The mokoshi covers a hisashi, a walled aisle surrounding a building on one or more sides, but can be attached directly to the core of the structure, in which case there is no hisashi; the roofing material for the mokoshi can be the different as in the main roof. The name derives from the fact that it surrounds and hides the main building like the cuff of a pair of pants, its purpose was in fact to hide the thick sustaining pillars of the structure, making it look lighter and simpler. It has been used extensively by the Zen sects in various structures of its temple complexes. Another name for a mokoshi is yuta, hence the name yuta-zukuri given to the style of a building featuring it.
This name started being used during the Middle Ages, stems from the idea that its presence offered protection from snow. The three storied east pagoda of Yakushi-ji seems to have six stories because of the presence of a mokoshi between each story; the first of the kon-dō's two stories at Hōryū-ji has a mokoshi, added in the Nara period with extra posts. These were needed to hold up the original first roof, which extended more than four meters past the building. Hōryū-ji's is the oldest extant example of mokoshi; the butsuden of a Zen temple has a mokoshi, therefore looks like a two-story building, although in fact it is not. The following structures all have a mokoshi