Analysis and Comparison of Kamakura and Asuka Period Sculpture

Japan has a very rich history of sculpture, from prehistory pottery, to a focus of materiality in modern Japanese sculpture. It’s history also very rich when it comes to dealing with the figure. The Yumedono Kannon of Horyu-ji is a fantastic glimpse into the past and the idealization of form. It’s considered a national treasure, and is only viewable by the public twice a year. The Yumedono Kannon serves as a prime example of Asuka period sculpture. Kosho’s statue of the monk Kuya was created roughly 600 years later than the Yumedono Kannon. It’s a beautiful example of displaying a strikingly real form with attention to detail found throughout the piece. This attention and realistic approach has become characteristic of early Kamakura sculpture and is defined throughout the rest of era. The similarities between these pieces stretch far beyond the idea that it’s a figurative sculpture, while the differences are the key indicators of the growth the artistic mindset and the approaches taken to the creation of art.
The Yumedono Kannon is stylistically an idealized form. The head has indication of bone structure in the cheeks, jaw and brow area. However, the construction of it is very generic and ovular. The layout of the facial features is very symmetrical, and smooth. The neck is tubular in nature and very plain. There’s no indication of an Adam’s apple and the chin doesn’t stick out very far from the connection between the two. The Kannon has very rounded shoulders that sort of angle down giving the figure a relaxed demeanor. The torso further emphasizes symmetry in the clothing and drapery hanging from the back. The streamlined appearance from afar comes from the harsh, straight lines flowing down. The form itself is very simple, with a little indication of the body under the clothing, but it’s also incredibly generic. There is a little play with asymmetry but it’s mostly where the clothes become connected on th…

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