09 November 2008
Buddha in China
Although the People's Republic of China is officially atheist, historically China has been deeply influenced by Buddhism as well as Confucianism and Taoism. Buddhism was introduced to China in the first century and was transformed by the existing Chinese culture to emphasize filial piety and the contributions of an individual's search for enlightenment to society as a whole. Buddhism rose to prominence during the during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), but persecution began in 845 when Emperor Wuzong ordered the destruction of 4,600 Buddhist monasteries and 40,000 temples. Wuzong argued that Buddhism was an alien religion, which is the reason he also persecuted the Christians in China. Chinese Buddhism never fully recovered from this persecution.
Today there are five religions recognized by the state: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Protestantism. In recent times, the government has expressed actual support for Buddhism and Taoism, religions which the state sees as an integral part of Chinese culture.
This little Buddha was created in four impressions of various golden tones. Here are the first three impressions:
Rather than carving 4 different blocks, I did all the work on one block with the reduction method. Here's how the last reduction of the block looked before printing:
I love how the "Insects and Flowers" portion of the Great Wall print turned out, with the brown ukiyo-e style linework and subtle colors, but my favorite way to work is this process I used with the Buddha -- just big swaths of color layered on top of each other with no outlines.