The Daitokuji Five Hundred Arhats Paintings and Their Beholders

  • Author / Creator
    Zhou, Yuzhi
  • The history of Buddhism cannot be understood solely in terms of theological or philosophical development; one must also attend to the social, cultural, and political changes that inevitably shaped and re-shaped the religion, its adherents, and its practices as it journeyed throughout Asia and beyond. Buddhist objects—such as the Daitokuji set of arhat paintings that are the focus of this study—are no exception. The meaning and significance of Buddhist objects had to gradually become intertwined with local systems of religious belief and cultural praxis to adapt to new religious, social and political needs. Similarly, the “social life” of the Daitokuji set demonstrates its constantly changing meanings and values through its contact with different beholders from China, Japan, and the West. This thesis respectively examines the interactions between the Daitokuji set and its beholders in an extremely long life history—from the viewing of the set by female beholders in the Confucian society of the Song period (960-1279) and Japanese patrons of Muromachi Japan (1338-1573) under great Chinese influence, to modern viewers within the new context of Buddhist modernism and the political landscape of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.