November 9, 2015/ 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

UCLA Royce Hall Room 314

Hell for Chefs, Heaven for Diners

Culinary imagery in Kumano mandala

Colloquium with Eric C. Rath, University of Kansas

Photo: Eric Rath, 2015.  

Visualization Mandala of the Heart and Ten Worlds of Kumano (Kumano Kanjin Jikkai Mandara) depicts the stages of life from old age to death; the possible fates after death for birth in hell or other realms of existence; and the means of salvation from these dooms through birth in a pure land. Mr. Rath's talk draws attention to the culinary imagery in Kumano mandala, a work replete with episodes of cooking, eating, feeding, drinking, and starving. Besides deciphering Kumano mandala’s message about the connections between food and popular piety, a culinary inquiry into the painting is important for insights revealed about late medieval and early modern views of the pleasures and pains of food preparation and ingestion.

Eric C. Rath is professor of premodern Japanese history at the University of Kansas and a specialist in Japanese dietary cultures.  His recent publications include “Sex and Sea Bream: Food in Hishikawa Moronobu’s (d. 1694) Visit to Yoshiwara,” in Seduction: Japan's Floating World: The John C. Weber Collection (2015) and "The Invention of Local Food," in The Globalization of Asian Cuisines: Transnational Networks and Culinary Contact Zones, ed. James Farrer (2015).  He is area editor for the Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets (2015).


Free & open to the public!

Sponsor(s): Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies