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Visualizing Enlightenment: Decoding the Buddhist IconographyVisualizing Enlightenment

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Buddhist Art News

Amida Buddha 2March 20 through July 24, 2015
USC Pacific Asian Museum
The Focus Gallery

Visualizing Enlightenment focuses on an exceptional Amitabha (or Amida Buddha) from the Kamakura period (1185-1333) in Japan. Over 6-feet tall, Amitabha is a rare example of such large scale in existence and was executed using the technique yosegi, in which a single image is carved from multiple pieces of wood that are joined together from the inside. Amitabha, “Limitless Light” in Sanskrit, is the Buddha of the western Pure Land and one of the most widely worshipped Buddhas in the Mahayana tradition due to its doctrine that assured salvation to commoners.

Buddhist art comprises a tremendous range of objects from paintings to sculptures to ritual objects. Images such as Amitabha have served as powerful pedagogical tools to help visualize the teachings and philosophical ideas of the religion. The intricately carved body halo and elegant lotus pedestal where…

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