CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

About History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed


Tanaka, Ken'ichi
Jianzhen's Transmission of Art and Adoption in Japan

Session 13 Transmission and Adoption


In art creation in ancient Japan, Chinese culture was generally adopted as the standard model. However, a filter phenomenon is observable on the receiving side. JianZhen, the subject of this presentation, was a Chinese monk who brought the classical rules of Buddhism to Japan in the 8th century. His achievements are great material for considering the concrete circumstances of the transmission of art and art concepts.

First, we will consider the subject of tree species used for carving wooden figures. In recent years, it was reconfirmed that a series of carved wooden figures made of kaya (Japanese nutmeg tree) of 8th century originated in Toshodaiji Temple. This concept of materials that was mentioned in the annotation of the Heart-dharani of eleven-headed Boddhisatva Sutra" is considered to have been brought by Jianzhen and his accompanies. One of the reasons why this concept was adopted in Japan is that this annotation had already been studied in Japan. We will verify this fact by focusing on the iconography of Eleven-headed Boddhisatva.

The second topic is the "Replica of King Asoka's Pagoda". This replica contains Jataka iconography with a theme of sacrifice on all of the four sides. It is possibly that this iconography is appropriate for sila and vinaya JianZhen handed down. However, there are no traces to prove that the Replica of King Asoka's Pagoda was imitated and disseminated, which indicates selection was performed in Japan.



Tanaka, Ken'ichi


2014 Doctor of Philosophy, Aesthetics and Art History, Graduate School of Letters, Kyoto



April 2011 –March 2015 Assistant Professor of Art History in the Faculty of Letters,

Osaka Ohtani University

April 2012 – present Researcher, Kyoto National Museum

April 2015 – present Associate Professor of Art History in the Faculty of Letters,

Osaka Ohtani University


·       “A Study on a Stele from Dayunsi Temple, Puzhou, Depicting a Relief Carving of Buddha's Nirvana.” ARS BUDDHICA 325 (Nov. 2012): 13-40

·        “A Study on the Configuration of Clay Images Enshrined in the Hōryū-ji Temple Five-story Pagoda.” Osaka-Otani bunkazai kenkyū 12 (March 2012): 36-57.

·        “Considering Image and Text in the Depiction of Preaching the Lotus Sutra on the Hase-dera Temple Copper Plaque.” ART HISTORY 168 (March 2010): 509-525.

·       “Issues Surrounding the Eleven-headed Kannon Sculptures at Seiryō-ji Temple (Nara) and Kannon-ji Temple (Kyoto): an Examination of Iconographical Features.” Kyoto bigaku bijutsushigaku 8 (March 2009): 66-98