Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
This study examines in detail thirty of the extant paintings illustrating the Kuan-wu-liang-shou-fo Ching ("The Sūtra of Visualizing the Buddha of Immeasurable Length of Life"). As a result of the detailed analysis of these paintings dating from the early T'ang Dynasty to the late Sung Dynasty, three categories of paintings emerge: 1) those which appear to stress meditation, 2) those which stress meditation but also have faith references, 3) those which stress faith primarily and place little emphasis on meditation. This study is the first of its kind in English concerning the Chinese cave paintings and banners of Tun-huang. It is also the first to examine such a large sample of the extant work illustrating the sūtra, be they the Chinese originals or the Japanese renditions, as to religious significance. Since only one version of this text is extant, purely textual criticism yields but limited findings. An examination of the paintings, other rich sources of information about the text, supplements the limited findings of textual criticism. The result of this examination is a far more comprehensive understanding of the Kuan-wu-liang-shou-fo Ching's teachings, especially in regard to the means to release, teachings gleaned both from the text and its visual forms. The paintings, at various times stress meditation, faith or a combination of both, as the means to release. This artistic evidence strongly suggests shifts in emphasis in the means to release expounded within the Pure Land Buddhist tradition during the time period this study spans.
Connolly, Gaiyle Jean, "Visual Forms of the Kuan-wu-liang-shou-fo, Ching in Far Eastern Art as Aids to Release" (1979). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2801.