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The Water-Moon form of Avalokiteśvara arose in China during the process of nativization of Buddhism in Tang China. Extant images of Water-Moon Avalokiteśvara tend to have been painted in either China or Korea, but there is an odd dislocation in the changes of style, with the colorful Koryŏ dynasty images paralleling not contemporary Song trends but rather those from hundreds of years earlier. That this effect might simply be a delay caused by geographical distance seems unlikely given the active cultural exchange between the two realms. Dramatic changes occurred in the Tang-Song era, including the rise of plebeian culture and Zen Buddhism. This carried over to a more minimalist style of art in China. Meanwhile, in Koryŏ, Buddhism continued to receive royal sponsorship and remain influential. This article argues that the differences in images and techniques between Koryŏ and Song-Yuan paintings of Water-Moon Avalokiteśvara were caused by the time difference in the social transformations of China and Korea.
Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies – Duke University Press
Published: Nov 1, 2021
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