The Premodern Colloquium. Bokuseki as Bodily Relic: Embodying Lineage and Enlightenment through Ink Traces in Medieval Japanese Zen
Kevin Carr, U-M History of Art
Sunday, November 19, 2023
The Chinese monks who emigrated to Japan in the thirteenth century witnessed many ruptures in their personal, institutional, and spiritual lives. They sought and performed continuity and connection with sources of spiritual authority by marshaling a combination of written and oral texts, material objects, embodied practices, and institutional structures. Among these, the function and significance of their written traces (J. bokuseki 墨蹟) as embodied relics in themselves have yet to be fully assessed. Focusing on the case study of two abbots of Engakuji in Kamakura, Wuxue Zuyuan 無學祖元 (J. Mugaku Sogen, 1226–1286) and Daxiu Zhengnian 大休正念 (J. Daikyū Shōnen, 1215–1289), this study explores how they and their circles employed brushed texts to supplement and even replace the legitimizing and ritual roles of portraits, relics, and master-disciple relationships. Through close analysis of the creation and reception of specific works in their broader cultural and religious contexts, this study considers the ontologies of writer and the written word, pointing to how the medium was used to perform embodied enlightenment while enabling spiritual and personal connections across time and space.
|Building:||Off Campus Location|
|Event Type:||Workshop / Seminar|
|Tags:||Art History, history, Japan, Religion|
|Source:||Happening @ Michigan from Medieval and Early Modern Studies (MEMS)|