A glass vase about a foot high is preserved at Nara in Japan, and is alleged to have been placed there in the 8th century.
The oldest existiog work of this period is a mural decoration in the hail of the temple of Horyu-ji, Nara, attributed to a Korean priest named Donchfl, who lived in Japan in the 6th century; and this painting, in spite of the destructive effects of time and exposure, shows traces of the same power of line, color and composition that stamps the best of the later examples of Buddhist art.
The first historical period of glyptic art in Japan reaches from the end of the 6th to the end of the 12th century, culminating in, the work of the great Nara sculptors, Unkei and Period, his pupil Kwaikei.
Happily, there are still preserved in the great temples of Japan, chiefly in the ancient capital of Nara, many noble relics of this period.
With these may be named the demon lantern-bearers, so perfect in the grotesque treatment of the diabolical heads and the accurate anatomical forms of the sturdy body and limbs; the colossal temple guardians of the great gate of Tdai-ji, by Unkei and Kwaikei (11th century), somewhat conventionalized, but still bearing evidence of direct study from nature, and inspired with intense energy of action; and the smaller but more accurately modelled temple guardians in the Saikondo, Nara, which almost compare with the fighting gladiator in their realization of menacing strength.
The goddess of art of Akishino-dera, Nara, attributed to the 8th century, is the most graceful and least conventional of female sculptures in Japan, but infinitely remote from the feminine conception of the Greeks.
The sculptures attributed to Jocho, the founder of the Nara school, although powerful in pose and masterly in execution, lack the truth of observation seen in some of the earlier and later masterpieces.
The most perfect of the ancient bronzes is the great image of Bhaicha-djyaguru in the temple of Yakushi-ji, Nara, attributed to a Korean monk of the 7th century, named Giflgi.
The colossal Nara Daibutsu (Vairocana) at Tdai-ji, cast in 749 by a workman of Korean descent, is the largest of the great bronzes in Japan, but ranks far below the Yakushi-ji image in artistic qualities.
The great Nara school of sculpture in wood was founded in the early part of the 11th century by a sculptor of Imperial descent named JOchO, who is said to have modelled his style upon that of the Chinese wood-carvers of the Tang dynasty; his traditions were maintained by descendants and followers down to the beginning of the 13th century.
Kuwamura; Mizuno; Koichi; Nagayoshi; Kuninaga; Yoshishige; Katsugi; Tsuji; Muneyoshi; Tadahira; Shoami; Hosono; Yokoya; Nara; Okada; Okamoto; Kinai; Akao; Yoshioka; Hirata; Nomura; Wakabayashi; Inouye; Yasui; Chiyo; Kaneko; Uemura; Iwamoto.
Its masters as skilled now as they were in the days of the Got, the Nara, the Yokoya and the Yanagawa celebrities, but also their productions must be called greater in many respects and more interesting than those of their renowned predecessors.
The great image of Lochana Buddha at Nara, for example, would measure 138 ft.
Thus, for the Nara Dai-butsu, the mould was constructed in a series of steps ascending 12 in.
In the 8th century, however, when the court was moved to Nara, the influence of Chinese civilization made itself felt.
Nara, India >>
An indefinable man-lion (nara sinha) represents the fourth avatar of the Indian Vishnu, and is found also among the Tibetans.