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4 Tutorials that teach Asian Art and Architecture
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Asian Art and Architecture

Asian Art and Architecture

Author: Ian McConnell
Description:

This lesson will introduce a section on Asian art and architecture.

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Tutorial

An introduction to Asian art and architecture, and the influence of Buddhism on the art and architecture of China and Japan.

Video Transcription

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Hello, I'd like to welcome you to this episdoe of Exploring Art History with Ian. My name is Ian McConnell, and today's lesson is about Asian Art and Architecture. As you're watching the video, feel free to pause, move forward, or rewind as many times as you feel is necessary. As soon as you're ready, we can begin.

Today's objectives are listed below. By the end of the lesson today, you'll be able to identify and define today's key terms, describe aspects that China and Japan have in common, explain the basic tenets of Buddhism, and compare and contrast the Zen and Pure Land types of Buddhism.

Key terms, as always, are listed in yellow throughout the lesson. First key term is Pure Land, the heavenly realm of a Buddha. Zen, school and teaching of Chinese Buddhism that emphasizes enlightenment and individual understanding of Buddhist teachings through formal studies and observances. Hinduism is a system of religious practice in India that emphasizes the idea of Dharma, or duty, and corresponding daily rituals and practices.

Big idea for today is that Buddhism was very influential on the art and architecture of China and Japan. So China, Japan, and the Silk Road-- here is China today. Here's Japan. And the historic Silk Road, which is largely responsible for the cultural exchanges between Western and Eastern civilizations, as well as within Asia itself.

So China and Japan have a close relationship historically-- not that they were the best of friends-- but China did have significant influence on the cultural, linguistic, religious, political, and artistic development within Japan, so a major influence.

Both cultures were very influenced by the rise of Buddhism, thanks, in part, to the Silk Road. Buddhism found its strongest integration within the cultures of China and Japan, despite developing in India. India was seeing significant growth in Hinduism between the 4th and 11th centuries, due in large part to the influence of devotional cults and Bhakti, which is a movement characterized by the deeply reciprocal love between a devotee and a personal god.

Although distinct religions, Buddhism and Hinduism are closely related, and share many essential characteristics, such as the veneration of images. Now this concept is perceived as idolatrous by other religions, such as Islam, which results in the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas, which are colossal statues of Buddha carved within massive rock walls. Their destruction in Afghanistan in 2001 by the Taliban, despite the best efforts globally to preserve them.

So this idea of a devotional cult is at the heart of Pure Land Buddhism, which is a type of Buddhism that emphasizes devotion to a form of Buddha-- the Buddha of Infinite Light. The belief was that in order to be reborn within the Pure Land, or Pure Realm, one must be sincerely devoted to the Buddha of Infinite Light.

Zen Buddhism, on the other hand, was a more introspective take on Buddhism with an emphasis on personal enlightenment through the study of Buddhist teachings and the use of meditation.

Both types had, and still have, a large following within Asia. But regardless of your flavor of Buddhism, the basic tenets remain essentially the same. Buddhists believe in the four noble truths, which include truth of suffering, truth of the cause of suffering, truth of the end of suffering, and truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering.

Karma is another basic tenet of Buddhism, and refers to actions and consequences, or cause and effect. The third basic tenet is the concept of reincarnation, which is a cycle of spiritual rebirth in order to achieve enlightenment. And again, the types are Pure Land and Zen Buddhism-- at least the types that we're looking at today, or talking about today.

So that brings us to the end of this lesson. Let's take a look at our objectives to see how we did. Now that you've seen the lesson, are you able to identify and define today's key terms? Can you describe aspects that China and Japan have in common? Can you explain the basic tenets of Buddhism? And can you compare and contrast the Zen and Pure Land types of Buddhism?

And once again, the big idea for today, is that Buddhism was very influential on the art and architecture of China and Japan. That's it, short lesson today. Thank you for joining me. I'll see you next time.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Pure Land

    The heavenly realm of a Buddha.

  • Zen

    A school and teaching of Chinese Buddhism that emphasizes enlightenment and individual understanding of Buddhist teachings through formal studies and observances.

  • Hinduism

    A system of religious practice in India that emphasizes the idea of dharma, or duty, and corresponding daily rituals and practices