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Bud Sculpture From Song Dynasty

Bud Sculpture From Song Dynasty

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Buddhist Sculptures from the Song Dynasty at Mingshan Temple in Anyue, SichuanAuthor(s): Henrik H. SørensenSource:
Artibus Asiae,
Vol. 55, No. 3/4 (1995), pp. 281-302Published by: Artibus Asiae PublishersStable URL:
Accessed: 19/11/2009 00:03
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HENRIKH.SORENSENENRIKH.SORENSEN
BUDDHISTSCULPTURESFROMTHESONG DYNASTYATMINGSHANTEMPLEINANYUE,SICHUAN
Introduction
DAuringthepastdecadeSichuanprovinceinsouthwestern Chinahas become known asthe homeofavasttreasurehouse ofreligioussculpturesinstone. Thesecarvings,whichrangeinagefromthe lateNanbeiChaoperiodto theQing dynasty,aspan coveringsomefourteen-hundredyears,
are scatteredovermorethanonehundred sitesthroughouttheprovince,withthelargestconcentrationsoundinthe areato the south and southwest ofChengdu,and to theeastinthecountiesituatedmidwaybetweenheprovincial apitalandChongqing.Thestudyofthereligious
carvingsof Sichuanhasprovidedconcernedscholarsworldwidewith anewunderstandingofChinesesculpturalart and has donemuch topromoteanappreciationfor thesignificanceofregionaland
provincial tyles.Especiallyhelargenumber fhigh qualitySongdynasty culpturesndthewealthof newiconographicalypesthat haveemerged,havechallengedhecommonlyheld notionof laterChineseBuddhistartasbeinginferior o thesculptures roducednder heTangdynasty.Alongsidethe now well-knownreligious sculpturesromDazu,those ofneighboringAnyue
countystand outfor their finequality,fairstate ofpreservation,longertime-span,and theirgreater
diversity.IHithertotheAnyue carvings,which aremainlydominatedby large-scaleBuddhist
sculpturesfrom theSong dynasty,have beenlargely ignoredbecause oftheir locationintheunderdevelopedand remotecountrysideof eastern Sichuan.However,recentlyanumber ofarticles,
mainlywrittenbylocal Chinesescholars,havebroughtforth much new material andinformationonthesculpturalsites,anditisonlyaquestionof time before theAnyuecarvingsbecome as famousasthoseinDazu.2
Thepurposeofthepresentstudyis togiveadetaileddescriptionof the Buddhist stonesculpturesfoundatMingshanTemple,oneof theimportantbut little knownsculpturalsitesinAnyue county.Inthe course ofthepresentationIshall endeavourtoaccountforthestyleandiconographyseeninthesesculptures,as well asshowinghowtheyfitinto the localsculpturaltradition.Iwilldealonlywith thewell-preservedSong dynasty sculptural groupsfound on the site and shallotherwiseignore
the laterimagesand otherreplicasofquestionableartistic merit thatcan also befound there.
General informationon thesculpturesofAnyue countycanbefoundin thelocalgazetteers, Anyuexianzhi,
I836;
1897(insixteen
juan),andAnyuexianxuzhi,
897
(infourJuan).Forsurveysof,and studieson,theAnyue carvings,eeWangiaoyou,eeWangiaoyou,"Anyue
shikucaoxiang(TheImagesinthe Stone CavesofAnyue)," DunhuangyanjiuI989.I, 45-53;WangYizhu,Zhongguoojiao yu Anyueshikuyishu(ChineseBuddhism and theArt of theAnyueStoneCarvings) (Beijing: Zhongguoliiyouchubanshe,1989[revisededition, 991i]);and YunAnzhi,"Anyueshiku sidiaochajiyao(EssentialRecord ofInvestigatingtheCarvingsin the Stone CaveTemplesofAnyue)," KaoguyuwenwuI986.6,45-52.See also HenrikH.Sorensen,ASurveyoftheReligiousSculptures f Anyue,EastAsianInstitute Occasionalapers3(1989);andAngelaF.Howard,"TangBuddhistSculptureof Sichuan:Unknown andForgotten,"Bulletinofthe MuseumofFar EasternAntiquities,
60(I988),
I-I64.Inaddition,several of theindividualsculpturalsites havebeenthesubjectofreports,most of which have beenpublishedinSichuanwenwzu.Sofarthe bestgeneralstudieson theDazucarvingsare,
Dazu
shikeyanjiu(hereafter DSY) (Studiesonthe DazuStoneCarvings),compiledand editedbyLiuZhangjiu,HuWenhe,andLiYongqiao(Chengdu:Sichuanshengshehuikexueyuanchubanshe,I985);andLiFanglang,Dazushikuyishu(TheArtof theDazuStoneCaves)(Chongqing: Chongqingchubanshe,
I990).
BUDDHISTSCULPTURESFROMTHESONG DYNASTYATMINGSHANTEMPLEINANYUE,SICHUAN
Introduction
DAuringthepastdecadeSichuanprovinceinsouthwestern Chinahas become known asthe homeofavasttreasurehouse ofreligioussculpturesinstone. Thesecarvings,whichrangeinagefromthe lateNanbeiChaoperiodto theQing dynasty,aspan coveringsomefourteen-hundredyears,
are scatteredovermorethanonehundred sitesthroughouttheprovince,withthelargestconcentrationsoundinthe areato the south and southwest ofChengdu,and to theeastinthecountiesituatedmidwaybetweenheprovincial apitalandChongqing.Thestudyofthereligious
carvingsof Sichuanhasprovidedconcernedscholarsworldwidewith anewunderstandingofChinesesculpturalart and has donemuch topromoteanappreciationfor thesignificanceofregionaland
provincial tyles.Especiallyhelargenumber fhigh qualitySongdynasty culpturesndthewealthof newiconographicalypesthat haveemerged,havechallengedhecommonlyheld notionof laterChineseBuddhistartasbeinginferior o thesculptures roducednder heTangdynasty.Alongsidethe now well-knownreligious sculpturesromDazu,those ofneighboringAnyue
countystand outfor their finequality,fairstate ofpreservation,longertime-span,and theirgreater
diversity.IHithertotheAnyue carvings,which aremainlydominatedby large-scaleBuddhist
sculpturesfrom theSong dynasty,have beenlargely ignoredbecause oftheir locationintheunderdevelopedand remotecountrysideof eastern Sichuan.However,recentlyanumber ofarticles,
mainlywrittenbylocal Chinesescholars,havebroughtforth much new material andinformationonthesculpturalsites,anditisonlyaquestionof time before theAnyuecarvingsbecome as famousasthoseinDazu.2
Thepurposeofthepresentstudyis togiveadetaileddescriptionof the Buddhist stonesculpturesfoundatMingshanTemple,oneof theimportantbut little knownsculpturalsitesinAnyue county.Inthe course ofthepresentationIshall endeavourtoaccountforthestyleandiconographyseeninthesesculptures,as well asshowinghowtheyfitinto the localsculpturaltradition.Iwilldealonlywith thewell-preservedSong dynasty sculptural groupsfound on the site and shallotherwiseignore
the laterimagesand otherreplicasofquestionableartistic merit thatcan also befound there.
General informationon thesculpturesofAnyue countycanbefoundin thelocalgazetteers, Anyuexianzhi,
I836;
1897(insixteen
juan),andAnyuexianxuzhi,
897
(infourJuan).Forsurveysof,and studieson,theAnyue carvings,eeWangiaoyou,eeWangiaoyou,"Anyue
shikucaoxiang(TheImagesinthe Stone CavesofAnyue)," DunhuangyanjiuI989.I, 45-53;WangYizhu,Zhongguoojiao yu Anyueshikuyishu(ChineseBuddhism and theArt of theAnyueStoneCarvings) (Beijing: Zhongguoliiyouchubanshe,1989[revisededition, 991i]);and YunAnzhi,"Anyueshiku sidiaochajiyao(EssentialRecord ofInvestigatingtheCarvingsin the Stone CaveTemplesofAnyue)," KaoguyuwenwuI986.6,45-52.See also HenrikH.Sorensen,ASurveyoftheReligiousSculptures f Anyue,EastAsianInstitute Occasionalapers3(1989);andAngelaF.Howard,"TangBuddhistSculptureof Sichuan:Unknown andForgotten,"Bulletinofthe MuseumofFar EasternAntiquities,
60(I988),
I-I64.Inaddition,several of theindividualsculpturalsites havebeenthesubjectofreports,most of which have beenpublishedinSichuanwenwzu.Sofarthe bestgeneralstudieson theDazucarvingsare,
Dazu
shikeyanjiu(hereafter DSY) (Studiesonthe DazuStoneCarvings),compiledand editedbyLiuZhangjiu,HuWenhe,andLiYongqiao(Chengdu:Sichuanshengshehuikexueyuanchubanshe,I985);andLiFanglang,Dazushikuyishu(TheArtof theDazuStoneCaves)(Chongqing: Chongqingchubanshe,
I990).
28I8I
 
I. OntheLocationandHistoryofMingshanTemple. OntheLocationandHistoryofMingshanTemple
MingshanTempleissituatedintheremote,eastern-mostpartofAnyuecounty,on thesummitofMountHutouoverlookingthedeep valleysof thesurroundingcountryside.Thissanctuary,alsoknownas"HutouTemple"afterthe mountainonwhichitissituated,islocatedsomesixtykilometersto thesoutheastofthecountycapitalnearMindongvillageinDingxindistrict.On thesummitof themountain,essentiallyasteeprockyout-cropwitha flattop,are theremainsofanoldfortifiedtemple,nowpartlyrestored.3Thelocation,as wellas theremainingwalls,someof whichstillstand overthreemetershigh,show thatMingshanTemplewas builtonthesite ofanoldfortressthatprobablydates fromthe lateTangdynasty (fig.
I).4
Thesculptures,mostofwhich arecomparatively large,arefoundinseveralniches located atirregularintervalsalonganarrowledgerunningaround the summitofthe mountain(fig.2).TheconceptofBuddhistsculpturescarved asdivineprotectionfor amilitaryinstallation,preferablyonthecliffsbelowthefortressitself,ismanifestinnumerousplacesinSichuanprovince.InDazuandAnyuecountiesalone theremains ofeightsuchfortifiedhills or mountaintopswithsculpturescanbefound,includingthefamous site ofMount
Bei.5
There arepresentlythirteennumberedsculpturalgroupsatMingshanTemple,with atotalofsixty-threelargeand smallimages.Inadditionthere arenineteensteleinscriptions,allofwhichdatefromthe mid- tolate-Qingdynasty.However,withthepossibleexceptionof onestele,none oftheseis relevantforastudyof thesculptures,astheymainlycontainpoeticandliterarycompositionsregardingthebeautyof thelandscapesurroundingMountHutou.AQianlong-periodsteleinscrip-tionsituated nearGroupNo.8states thattheearliestBuddhistactivitiesonthe mountaintookplaceduringthelater halfoftheTangdynastyinconnectionwiththeChanSchool.6However,theSonginscriptionIlocated,on theleft wallof thenichecontainingGroupNo.8,has been soseverelydamaged bycenturies ofwindandrainthatalmostnothingof thetext ispresently legible(fig.3).This unfortunatelack ofcontemporaryrecordscontaininginformationaboutthehistoryofthesculptures,ostensiblywrittenbythosewhocommissionedthem,forcesus topiece togetheraplausiblehistorical scenarioon thebasis oficonographicalandstylisticevidencealone.Fortunatelythe task is notquiteascomplicatedas Iwasinitiallyled tobelieve.Onthebasisoftheirdistinctstyleandiconography,which,asIhopetoshowbelowcompare verywellwithotherSongcarvingsinAnyueand Dazucounties,allthemainsculpturalgroupsintheMingshanTemplewouldseem tohave beencarvedduringthemiddleperiodoftheSong dynasty.With theaboveinformation inmind,IconsideritfairlycertainthattheMingshanTemplewasafairlyimportantreligiouscenterduringtheSong period.Furthermore,the closeaffinitywiththesculpturalcenters inDazu andAnyuewouldseemtoindicate thatthissite waspartofalargerregionalnetwork ofsanctuaries andpilgrimcenterswhichhadgrownout ofthestrongBuddhist
3
Atthe time ofmyvisit to thetemplein theSummerofI993,theplacehad beenturned into athrivingcenterofsyncreticfolkreligionwithnumerousworshippers crowdingthecourtyardon full moonand newmoondays.
4
Sofar the bestinformation onthe site can befound inTang Chengcha'sbriefsurvey,"AnyueMingshansimoyai caoxiang(TheCliff-sideImagesatMingshanTempleinAnyue),"Sichuanwenwu(hereafterSW)
1990.6,
46.Mybrief note onthe sitein,ASurveyoftheReligiousSculptures fAnyue.East AsianInstituteOccasionalPapers3(1989),I2,istoosuperficialto be of muchvalue.5InDazu such anarrangementcan be foundat MountBaoding,MountShizhuan,andat MountShimen;inAnyueatQianfoFortress,YuanjueCave,andatPiluCave.
6
Cf.TangChengcha, "Anyue Mingshansimoyai caoxiang,"46.
MingshanTempleissituatedintheremote,eastern-mostpartofAnyuecounty,on thesummitofMountHutouoverlookingthedeep valleysof thesurroundingcountryside.Thissanctuary,alsoknownas"HutouTemple"afterthe mountainonwhichitissituated,islocatedsomesixtykilometersto thesoutheastofthecountycapitalnearMindongvillageinDingxindistrict.On thesummitof themountain,essentiallyasteeprockyout-cropwitha flattop,are theremainsofanoldfortifiedtemple,nowpartlyrestored.3Thelocation,as wellas theremainingwalls,someof whichstillstand overthreemetershigh,show thatMingshanTemplewas builtonthesite ofanoldfortressthatprobablydates fromthe lateTangdynasty (fig.
I).4
Thesculptures,mostofwhich arecomparatively large,arefoundinseveralniches located atirregularintervalsalonganarrowledgerunningaround the summitofthe mountain(fig.2).TheconceptofBuddhistsculpturescarved asdivineprotectionfor amilitaryinstallation,preferablyonthecliffsbelowthefortressitself,ismanifestinnumerousplacesinSichuanprovince.InDazuandAnyuecountiesalone theremains ofeightsuchfortifiedhills or mountaintopswithsculpturescanbefound,includingthefamous site ofMount
Bei.5
There arepresentlythirteennumberedsculpturalgroupsatMingshanTemple,with atotalofsixty-threelargeand smallimages.Inadditionthere arenineteensteleinscriptions,allofwhichdatefromthe mid- tolate-Qingdynasty.However,withthepossibleexceptionof onestele,none oftheseis relevantforastudyof thesculptures,astheymainlycontainpoeticandliterarycompositionsregardingthebeautyof thelandscapesurroundingMountHutou.AQianlong-periodsteleinscrip-tionsituated nearGroupNo.8states thattheearliestBuddhistactivitiesonthe mountaintookplaceduringthelater halfoftheTangdynastyinconnectionwiththeChanSchool.6However,theSonginscriptionIlocated,on theleft wallof thenichecontainingGroupNo.8,has been soseverelydamaged bycenturies ofwindandrainthatalmostnothingof thetext ispresently legible(fig.3).This unfortunatelack ofcontemporaryrecordscontaininginformationaboutthehistoryofthesculptures,ostensiblywrittenbythosewhocommissionedthem,forcesus topiece togetheraplausiblehistorical scenarioon thebasis oficonographicalandstylisticevidencealone.Fortunatelythe task is notquiteascomplicatedas Iwasinitiallyled tobelieve.Onthebasisoftheirdistinctstyleandiconography,which,asIhopetoshowbelowcompare verywellwithotherSongcarvingsinAnyueand Dazucounties,allthemainsculpturalgroupsintheMingshanTemplewouldseem tohave beencarvedduringthemiddleperiodoftheSong dynasty.With theaboveinformation inmind,IconsideritfairlycertainthattheMingshanTemplewasafairlyimportantreligiouscenterduringtheSong period.Furthermore,the closeaffinitywiththesculpturalcenters inDazu andAnyuewouldseemtoindicate thatthissite waspartofalargerregionalnetwork ofsanctuaries andpilgrimcenterswhichhadgrownout ofthestrongBuddhist
3
Atthe time ofmyvisit to thetemplein theSummerofI993,theplacehad beenturned into athrivingcenterofsyncreticfolkreligionwithnumerousworshippers crowdingthecourtyardon full moonand newmoondays.
4
Sofar the bestinformation onthe site can befound inTang Chengcha'sbriefsurvey,"AnyueMingshansimoyai caoxiang(TheCliff-sideImagesatMingshanTempleinAnyue),"Sichuanwenwu(hereafterSW)
1990.6,
46.Mybrief note onthe sitein,ASurveyoftheReligiousSculptures fAnyue.East AsianInstituteOccasionalPapers3(1989),I2,istoosuperficialto be of muchvalue.5InDazu such anarrangementcan be foundat MountBaoding,MountShizhuan,andat MountShimen;inAnyueatQianfoFortress,YuanjueCave,andatPiluCave.
6
Cf.TangChengcha, "Anyue Mingshansimoyai caoxiang,"46.
28282

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