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On the Composition of the Western Pure Land Illustrations in the Mogao Caves Dating from the Early Tang to High Tang Periods

YAGI Haruo;YAO Yao;Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences,University of Tsukuba;College of Art,Southeast University;  
Beginning with Cave 220 which dates from the 16 th year of the Zhenguan era(642 CE), Tang dynasty illustrations of the Western Pure Land school at Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes were large productions usually occupying a whole wall surface, compared with previous compositions that generally consist of a central scene of the Buddha preaching under the trees surrounded by the thousand-Buddha motifs. In the third phase of Early Tang caves, Western Pure Land illustrations added two scenes of the Sixteen Meditations and the story of King Bimbisāra and Ajāta atru as a detailed explanation of the Amitayus Sutra. This trend can also be observed in other sutra illustrations, from which it can be seen that the nature of sutra illustrations had changed since the third phase of the Early Tang period. This paper aims to explore what changes had taken place in large-sized sutra illustrations in the third and fourth phases of the Early Tang, and to identify which changes appeared in the second phase and for what reason.
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