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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Korean
Creator Dates/Places: Korea
Creator Active Place: Korea
Creator Name-CRT: Korea, Unifed Silla Period
Title: Standing Buddha Amitabha (Amit'a)
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 800
Creation End Date: 899
Creation Date: 9th century
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: glazed stoneware
Dimensions: Overall: 25.4cm, with tang: 26cm
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1988.34
Credit Line: Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund
Context: The Kingdom of Silla in southeastern Korea coexisted with its neighbors Kaya (to the south), Paekche (to the west), and Koguryo (to the north) for several centuries before political tensions erupted into serious conflict in the seventh century. Competing alliances among the kingdoms and between foreign neighbors to the north (China) and east (Japan) resulted finally in Silla's campaign to overcome its peninsular neighbors. Koguryo felt Tang China's power in the early seventh century, gradually succumbing to allied Tang-Silla armies in 668. Paekche had already fallen to Silla six years earlier. As a result, a unified state of Silla began governing the various peoples of the Korean peninsula under the watchful eyes of its neighbor to the north, which had absorbed much of Koguryo's former territory. Contact with Japan diminished although Paekche allies who had fled in defeat to the island nation proved a valuable source of information about systems of government, technology, and current Buddhist thought onthe continent. As the new Unified Silla state actually expanded its governance into the former territories of Paekche and Koguryo, it also discovered their rich, diverse cultural environments: Paekche had the flavor of southern Chinese influence, and Koguryo the northern Chinese provinces. The great expansion of Silla then consolidated and increased the development of native cultural forms and styles. While politically and culturally aware of Tang China, the late seventh and the eighth centuries mark thetime during which Buddhism and the arts in Korea began to take on an independent, native cast once more. The synthesis of truly international styles with native traditions represents a major theme in East Asian art at this time and appears in this robustgilt bronze Amitabha (Amit'a in Korean). The Tang attention to attractive bodily proportions and arrangements of jewelry has become simplified. This Amit'a is stout, its drapery less busy and more revealing of the bodily forms underneath. The facial expression reflects the gentle compassion of Amit'a, whose worship became very popular during the Unified Silla period, primarily because of the belief that the simple recitation of a short phrase honoring the deity's name would assure rebirth in his abode ina heavenly Western Paradise. Such comparatively easy paths to spiritual salvation fostered the spread of popular Buddhism throughout Korea, a message also conveyed by portable icons to which the devout could pray in private, wherever they might be. M.R.C.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1988.34
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights:
Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art
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