S-Space College of Humanities (인문대학) Archaeology and Art History (고고미술사학과) Theses (Master's Degree_고고미술사학과)
Transparent Wisdom : 투명한 진리: 法門寺 持鉢 보살상 연구
- 인문대학 고고미술사학과(미술사학전공)
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 대학원
- 학위논문 (석사)-- 서울대학교 대학원 : 고고미술사학과(미술사학전공), 2013. 2. 이주형.
- This thesis explores the intriguing iconographic problems on the pair of bodhisattvas in the underground palace of Famensi 法門寺. The pair of bodhisattvas, carved on the each stone slab of the second door, respectively bears a transparent bowl and a scripture. Such curious pair of bodhisattvas were also found at Seokguram 石窟庵 in Korea, one of the most representative monuments among the Buddhist art of East Asia during the reign of the Tang dynasty. As it is widely known, the underground palace of Famensi enshrined the finger-bone relics, widely believed as the most authentic remains of Śākyamuni Buddha by Chinese Buddhists. Hence, the pair of bodhisattvas may have been a product of the apex of achievement in the religious art of both the Tang and the Unified Silla, though it may seem as a peculiar set of icons to modern scholars of Buddhist art history. Then why does the pair hold those objects, in such an important location? What are implied by those attributions, and who are they?
In this thesis, various pieces of textual sources and artworks were examined to conclude that the pair, scripture-bearer bodhisattva and bowl-bearer bodhisattva, represents Mañjuśrī and Samantabhadra respectively. It is generally known in literary sources that Mañjuśrī holds a scripture as its attribute. As for the cultural background of the bowl-bearer bodhisattva, this thesis has discussed the possibility of contemporaries regarding this transparent bowl as a luxury item from West Asia during the Tang dynasty. It is also notable that there are examples of bodhisattvas holding evidently secular luxury items, and examples from the murals of Dunhuang 敦煌, which adapted the image of transparent vessels in various contexts. In the same vein, transparent bowls of glass or crystal were highly praised in both realms of material culture and Buddhist culture during the Tang dynasty, so it may have been an appropriate choice to use a transparent bowl as bodhisattvas attribute.
This thesis shows another possibility that the transparent bowl of bodhisattva could have religious meaning in the Buddhist context. Based on existing materials, bodhisattva bearing a bowl could represent the rightful heir of Śākyamuni and true Dharma, Mañjuśrī. However, among the pair at Famensi, it is apparent that the bodhisattva holding a scripture is Mañjuśrī, thus its identification needs a more sophisticated approach. This thesis proposes a hypothesis that the depiction of Samantabhadra during the Tang dynasty was not based on the Buddhist texts that discuss the attributes for the bodhisattva, but faithfully followed the visual model presented by Mañjuśrī. It is notable that according to religious interpretation, Mañjuśrī and Samantabhadra formed a unity of non-duality in Tang China. In addition, the fact that text which focused on Samantabhadra was translated in the name of Mañjuśrī also strongly suggests that the two entities were mutually penetrating each others realms. Therefore, the bowl-bearer Samantabhadra could appropriately be depicted in contemporary artisans' work as a faithful visual double to the bowl-bearer Mañjuśrī.
It is still difficult to know whether the bowl held by the bodhisattva in Famensi is a icon, which reflects the lavish contemporary material culture of the Tang or a icon which inherited its symbolism from Buddhas bowl. While this question awaits further research, this thesis is meaningful in that it offers possible interpretations in discerning the identity of the bodhisattva discussed above.