The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Esoteric Buddhist Sculpture / Japanese Sculpture
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Many Esoteric Buddhist deities show the strong influence of Indian Hindu imagery—distinguished by multiple arms and faces, often with wrathful expressions. Painted or sculptural representations of full compendiums of these deities are called mandalas.
After Kūkai, new trends in Esoteric Buddhism continued to stream into Japan from Tang China not only through the Shingon sect founded by Kūkai but also by way of monks of the Esoteric Tendai sect such as Ennin (794–864) and Enchin (814–891).
Before the Edo period, almost all Japanese sculpture was religious in nature. Buddhist sculptures were produced in Japan from the time Buddhism took hold in the seventh century, but the icons they represented came from India by way of China, bringing with them the influence of those countries.
Japanese Buddhist sculptures from various historical periods exemplify the repeated waves of influence from the Asian mainland and subsequent Japanese innovations, leading to a rich variety of sculptural styles.