Korea, Choson Period / Amita's Triad / 15th CenturyKorea, Choson Period
Amita's Triad
15th Century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Korean
Creator Dates/Places: Korea
Creator Active Place: Korea
Creator Name-CRT: Korea, Choson Period
Title: Amita's Triad
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1400
Creation End Date: 1499
Creation Date: 15th Century
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: cast bronze with gilding
Dimensions: Overall: 40.6cm x 16.5cm x 54.6cm
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1918.501
Credit Line: Worcester R. Warner Collection
Rights: http://www.clemusart.com/museum/disclaim2.html
Context: At the close of the Koryo period, Buddhism in Korea began to languish. Once lavishly supported by the royal family and the upper social classes, its grand monastic institutions were viewed by the new Choson military leaders as feeble and corrupt. Official government support swung over to promote Confucianism, which developed its own patterns of affiliation with government officials throughout the country. In addition, Buddhist temples found themselves losing the landed estates upon whose revenue they had come to depend for sustenance. Yet the absorption of the Buddhist faith into the daily life of the populace for a millennium helped maintain the institutions, even in their much reduced circumstances. Local and regional popular support emerged as monasteries assumed more active roles in the communities outside the confines of their compound walls. Solemn religious days were often expanded to include local festivals, markets, and other nonreligious but focal activities of nearby villages. Besides the large colorful banner paintings of Buddhist deities that were displayed prominently out of doors in the temple's courtyard on these holidays, parishioners could view mural painting and statuary inside temple buildings, too. This rare fifteenth-century triad features a central image of Amit'a flanked by Ksitigarbha (Chijang Bosal in Korean) on his right and Avalokiteshvara (Kuanum Bosal in Korean) to his left. Worshiped in numerous forms, Kuanum serves Amit'a as his most compassionate agent, offering salvation in the Western Paradise presided over by Amit'a. Chijang had become a popular deity during the previous Koryo dynasty, one associated with vivid apocalyptic images of the kings of hell. In the Choson period his appeal to the faithful only expanded. Eachof the flanking figures sits on a lotus base emanating from the central stalk of Amit'a, who sits cross-legged, hands and fingers in a gesture of blessing. Originally this sculpture may have been placed in front of a large mural painting describing the visionary Western Paradise or depicting apsaras (heavenly attendants) and loyal disciples. Such arrangements with these three beneficent deities rendered in vivid mineral pigments and accompanied by assemblages of sculpture and painting within a hall dedicated to the worship of Amit'a are recorded, and fortunately a small number survive today in Korea. M.R.C.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1918.501
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art

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