Sat, Aug 31, 2019 - Page 14 News List

Bilingual Arts: Early influences on Buddhist art
雙語藝術:由希臘化到「曹衣出水」的佛像

Photo 1: Map showing Buddhist expansion from the Buddhist heartland in northern India (dark orange) starting in the 6th century BC, to a Buddhist majority realm (orange), and the historical extent of Buddhism’s influence (yellow). Forms of Buddhism: Mahayana (red arrow), Theravada (green arrow), and Tantric-Vajrayana (blue arrow).
圖一:佛教傳布路線圖。自西元前六世紀始,佛教由其發源地印度北部(深橙色部分)向外傳布。現今以佛教為主要信仰的區域標為橙色,歷史上曾受佛教影響的區域為黃色。大乘佛教的傳布以紅色箭頭表示,小乘佛教為綠色箭頭,密宗-金剛乘為藍色箭頭。

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
照片:維基共享資源

The historical Buddha Siddhartha Gautama, or Sakyamuni, passed away around the fifth century BC. Later, the Indian emperor Ashoka the Great (304 – 232BC) of the Mauryan Dynasty dispatched Buddhist monks to spread the religion beyond the empire, which had a huge impact throughout the Asia region (photo 1).

During the early years of Buddhism, idol worship was forbidden, and it wasn’t until later, when Greek anthropomorphic concepts influenced Buddhist statues, that Buddhist art developed different styles and an iconological vocabulary of its own (for the Hellenistic Gandharan style of Buddhist statuary, see Bilingual Arts on July 27).

Following the transmission of Buddhism to China via the Silk Road, there was a significant transformation in Buddhist statuary and figurative representation. In Chinese painting there is the twin concept of 吳帶當風、曹衣出水 (“Wu’s strands flapping in the wind, Cao’s clothes from the water”), in which the 吳, wu, of the first phrase referred to the Tang Dynasty painter Wu Daozi (685 – 758AD) — known as the “sage of painting” — while the 曹, cao, of the second refers to the Buddhist figurative artist Cao Zhongda (dates unknown) of the Northern and Southern dynasties period.

Wu’s figurative representations were said to depict clothes billowing in the wind, using flowing lines. No actual examples of Wu’s work survive, but see Bilingual Arts on Sept. 30, 2017 for an introduction to examples of Wu’s painting style in the Dunhuang Mogao Caves.

Cao was from a state in Central Asia, in the present day region of Samarqand in Uzbekistan. He was renowned for his figurative paintings and Buddhist statuary dating to the Northern Qi Dynasty (550 – 577AD). Cao used dense, fine lines to depict figure-hugging clothing, revealing the shape of the torso beneath, as if the person had just emerged from water.

In the tuhua jianwen zhi (Record of Illustration and Traditional Chinese Painting) by Northern Song Dynasty art connoisseur Guo Ruoxu, Guo writes: “under Wu’s brush, clothing is depicted in strong, rounded strokes, fluttering in the air; Cao builds up the clothing with dense, tight lines. Thus, their work was later described as ‘Wu strands in the wind, Cao clothes from the water.’ Indeed, sculpture and statuary started with Cao and Wu.” Guo’s words show us the extent to which the figurative styles of Wu Daozi and Cao Zhongda were to influence Chinese painting and sculpture.

Unfortunately, painting and calligraphy are fragile, and few examples survive the ravages of time. Also, in antiquity, the work of sculptors was anonymous. As a result, we cannot attribute any works to Cao Zhongda per se. Nevertheless, in the extant Buddhist statuary datable to the Northern dynasties, we can still distinguish his style in the Buddhist Caves at Yungang (photo 2), which were clearly influenced by the Gandharan style.

From the Gandharan-influenced style to Cao’s legacy and the lively depictions of Wu, we can see the line of stylistic development of Buddhist statuary, and how Buddhism itself was influenced by its new home.

(Translated by Paul Cooper, Taipei Times)

釋迦牟尼約西元前五世紀寂滅後,佛教經孔雀王朝阿育王(西元前三○四~前二三二年)派遣僧侶大力對外傳播,影響力擴及亞洲各地。【圖一】

而視覺上的佛教,則由初始的禁止偶像崇拜,經希臘的「人神同形同性」概念賦予形象、造出佛像後,演變出許多不同的風格及圖像學語彙。(關於希臘化的犍陀羅式佛像,請參見七月二十七日的「雙語藝術」單元。)

佛教經絲路傳到中國後,也對佛像及人物形象的塑造有很大影響。中國繪畫中有「吳帶當風」、「曹衣出水」這樣的一組對照概念。「吳帶當風」的「吳」,指的是被尊稱為「畫聖」的唐代畫家吳道子(西元六八五~七五八年),其人物塑造,以流轉的線條營造出衣帶飛動轉折的飄逸形象。(吳道子作品真蹟現已不存,但可參見二○一七年九月三十日「雙語藝術」所介紹吳道子風格的敦煌壁畫。)

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