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Gunji, Naoko (2007) AMIDAJI: MORTUARY ART, ARCHITECTURE, AND RITES OF EMPEROR ANTOKU'S TEMPLE. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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My dissertation analyzes the art, architecture, and rites related to mortuary ceremonies for Emperor Antoku and the Taira at the Buddhist temple Amidaji in Shimonoseki City in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Amidaji served as a mortuary temple for the eight-year-old emperor Antoku and the Taira clansmen, who, defeated in the final battle of the Genpei War, jumped to their deaths in the cold seas off the coast of Akama in 1185. Because the child emperor and the Taira drowned themselves, their spirits, unable to access the next world, were believed to become malicious ghosts who threatened the living and the nation. Amidaji, constructed in front of the battle site and where Antoku's body was believed to be interred, assumed major responsibility for the rituals to appease these ghosts and to assist them in attaining rebirth in the Western Paradise of Amida Buddha. Despite its importance, Amidaji was abolished and was then replaced by a Shintô shrine during the persecution of Buddhism in the late nineteenth century. The buildings of the temple were demolished and the majority of Buddhist icons and implements were destroyed. Several key artworks, including the portraits of Antoku and the Taira as well as the sliding-door paintings depicting the life of the emperor, survived; however, the removal of artworks from the architectural settings where rituals took place stripped their primary functions. In order to recover the lost meanings of the art and architecture of Amidaji, this dissertation positions the art and architecture as integral ritual components and attempts to reconnect them with the various contexts in which they actually functioned.My study is based on a visual analysis of surviving works of art and architecture at Amidaji, a close study of textual and pictorial evidence, and a survey of the actual site. I explore the roles of the art and architecture where a variety of elements—artifacts, rites, patrons, and specific circumstances of politics, society, history, culture, economy, and religion— intersected. This study enhances our understanding of the art and architecture of Amidaji and illuminates the broader context where their specific meanings and actual functions were created.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGerhart, Karenkgerhart@pitt.eduKGERHART
Committee MemberWilkins, DavidDGW2@pitt.eduDGW2
Committee MemberRawski, Evelynesrx@pitt.eduESRX
Committee MemberLinduff, Katherynlinduff@pitt.eduLINDUFF
Committee MemberPenkower, Lindapenkower@pitt.eduPENKOWER
Date: 20 September 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 14 May 2007
Approval Date: 20 September 2007
Submission Date: 22 July 2007
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History of Art and Architecture
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Buddhist temple; Shinto shrine; death; ghost
Other ID:, etd-07222007-204150
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:52
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:46


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