April 28, 2022/ 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

Butsuzō: New Horizons on the Study of Japanese Buddhist Sculpture

Junior Faculty Roundtable #3

In recent years, exhibitions of Buddhist sculpture (butsuzō) in Japan have become blockbuster affairs, with attendance figures so high that they rank among the most popular exhibitions in the world. What is fueling this “butsuzō boom?” Why do these nonmodern, ritual objects exert such a powerful pull over twenty-first-century viewers? Needless to say, such statuary has long held pride of place in the canon of Japanese art. This status dates to the nineteenth century, when these icons were categorically reassigned as “sculptures” meant to rival those of the antique Mediterranean. Recent decades, however, have seen dramatic shifts towards exciting new horizons in the study of these artifacts: ritual studies, conservation analysis, materiality studies, and performance studies have changed the way in which these objects are seen. A further topic of considerable recent interest has been the vast array of objects sometimes discovered cached within these sculptural bodies. As such, this timely roundtable will address the state of butsuzō scholarship at this exciting juncture: its historiography, the tension between living icon and art-historical artifact, and especially the critical promise of future research into these three-dimensional forms.



Sherry Fowler, University of Kansas
Yukio Lippit, Harvard University
Samuel Morse, Amherst College
Akiko Walley, University of Oregon


Kristopher Kersey, UCLA Department of Art History


Webinar Registration is required to attend this event.

Download file: RT3_Flyer-gy-nga.pdf

Sponsor(s): Center for Buddhist Studies

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