Culture and Cosmos is a peer-reviewed academic journal in the history of astrology and cultural astronomy published in association with the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology, University of Wales Trinity Saint David

Vol 18 no 2 (Autumn/Winter 2014 will be published in July/August 2016. Vol. 19 (2015) will be a double issue featuring the proceedings of the 2013 Sophia Centre conference on Celestial Magic and is scheduled for publication in September/October 2016. Vol. 20 (2016) will be a double issue featuring the proceedings of the 2014 Sophia Centre conference on the Marriage of Heaven and Earth.


Volume 10

Stars and Planets in Chinese and Central Asian Buddhist Art in the Ninth to Fifteenth Centuries

Lilla Russell-Smith

Abstract

This essay introduces the earliest known representations of planets and other stellar deities in East and Central Asian Buddhist art, especially in China. The five biggest planets, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury, were observed and named at an early stage in China. However, their anthropomorphic representations became popular only after the arrival of Buddhism. It is likely that Western traditions regarding their appearance were transmitted through India. In Buddhist sutras the planets are often described as paying homage to the Buddha and listening to his teachings, and this is how many paintings represent them. A Chinese painting from Dunhuang shows a seated Buddha (the Buddha of the Blazing Light) on a chariot surrounded by the planets, represented as human figures with their attributes. Such representation of this Buddha was always associated with the planets. This essay introduces later Chinese paintings as well as a hitherto misidentified Uygur example of this representation, and points out that the iconography of the planets remained remarkably constant in East Asian art. The essay also includes relevant sections of sutras, as these determined the iconographic method for showing the planets up to recent times in China, Japan and Korea.

Contact Us

Dr. Nick Campion, n.campion@uwtsd.ac.uk, (University of Wales Trinity Saint David) Chair

For queries about technical issues or the website:
Dr. Frances Clynes, frances.clynes@sophia-project.net (University of Wales Trinity Saint David)



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