ANS 384 • Bodhisattva Imagery
12:30 PM-3:30 PM
Bodhisattva is a term which is difficult to define: one translation is: "One whose essence is perfect knowledge." This seminar will examine the depiction of bodhisattvas who remain somewhat mysterious figures despite the fact that they are commonly encountered in Buddhist art. We will begin by studying their appearance during the last period of Buddhist art of India (8th-12th centuries CE). This will allow us to move from a place with some degree of certainty as to what constitutes such imagery to consider earlier periods in which this is a more ambiguous matter, reflecting the confusion surrounding their origin and place within the Buddhist tradition. We will also consider their appearance elsewhere in Asia. Questions concerning the identities of these figures as either human or divine beings as well as how they symbolize concepts such as compassion will be addressed. Also of concern will be how iconographic and stylistic changes may be related and how the development of bodhisattvas may reflect regional variations in Buddhist practices.
Participation in weekly discussions based on readings Written reactions to readings Presentation and completion of two short papers