Book

Surviving Nirvana

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9789622091252
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882207448 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5790/hongkong/9789622091252.001.0001
Surviving Nirvana

Show Summary Details

Preview

The Buddha's nirvana marks the end of the life of a great spiritual figure and the beginning of Buddhism as a world religion. This is the first book in the English language to examine how this historic moment was represented and received in the visual culture of China, of which the nirvana image has been a part for over 1,500 years. Mining a selection of well-documented and well-preserved examples from the sixth to twelfth centuries, the author offers a reassessment of medieval Chinese Buddhism by focusing on practices of devotion and image-making that were inspired by the Buddha's “complete extinction.” The nirvana image, comprised of a reclining Buddha and a mourning audience, was central to defining the local meanings of the nirvana moment in different times and places. The motif's many guises, whether on a stone-carved stele, inside a pagoda crypt, or as a painted mural in a cave temple, were the product of social interactions, religious institutions, and artistic practices prevalent in a given historical context. They were also cogent responses to the fundamental anxiety about the absence of the Buddha and the prospect of one's salvation. By reinventing the nirvana image to address its own needs, each community of patrons, makers, and viewers sought to recast the Buddha's “death” into an allegory of survival that was charged with local pride and contemporary relevance.

Keywords: Buddha; nirvana; Buddhism; visual culture; China; devotion; image-making; extinction; salvation

Book.  372 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Hong Kong University Press »


Table of Contents

Introduction in Surviving Nirvana

Chapter

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Epilogue in Surviving Nirvana

Chapter

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.