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Title: How Bodhidharma came to the East : the visual representations of Bodhidharma in East Asian art, with a special emphasis on the Korean Bodhidharma-paintings and the formation of Bodhidharma's iconography
Author: Mecsi, Beatrix
ISNI:       0000 0001 3390 8304
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2004
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The founder of meditational Buddhism according to tradition is the Indian born Bodhidharma, whose legendary figure can often be seen in visual art and popular culture of East Asian countries. In my thesis I focus on the visual representations of Bodhidharma, and for the first time, after summarizing the information about him revealed in primary and secondary textual and pictorial sources, I set down a comprehensive study on the formation of the Bodhidharma-iconography, and discuss Korean Bodhidharma-images in a wider context of East Asian images. This thesis introduces Korean Bodhidharma images for the first time in a Western language, and show them together with the already known Chinese and Japanese images. It raises several problems on the identification of these images and brings new evidence on the formation of the Bodhidharma- iconography. It shows how it derived from representations of Daoist immortals and Buddhist arhats. Earlier studies usually consider texts as primary to visual images, but in my thesis, introducing images from the eleventh and twelfth century, I show that in the case of Bodhidharma- iconography visual images had a considerable influence on written texts. Stressing the importance of visual representations of a religious founder in forming further written and visual legends is a new approach which opens new paths to further studies in religious imagery.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral