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 Featured Title
Images in Asian Religions
Texts and Contexts
Phyllis Granoff   Koichi Shinohara  

$97.00 Hardcover
Release Date: 9/15/2004
ISBN: 9780774809481    

$36.95 Paperback
Release Date: 7/1/2005
ISBN: 9780774809498    

396 Pages

Asian Religions and Society series


About the Book

UBC Press is pleased to announce a new series in Asian religions. Pilgrims, Patrons, and Place, a Buddha Dharma Kyokai Foundation Book on Buddhism and Comparative Literature, is the first book in this series. Click here to see other titles in this series.

The study of images in Asian religions has tended to emphasize the centrality of image worship in both Hinduism and Buddhism. Images in Asian Religions offers a challenge to any simple understanding of the role of images by looking at aspects of the reception of image worship that have only begun to be studied, including the many hesitations that Asian religious traditions expressed about image worship.

Written by eminent scholars of anthropology, art history, and religion with interests in different regions (India, China, Japan, and Southeast Asia), this volume takes a fresh look at the many ways in which images were defined and received in Asian religions. Areas addressed include the complex, fluid, and contested nature of the religious image; the reception of images within the intellectual culture of Hinduism and Buddhism; and the importance of historical and cultural context in the study of religious images.

This compelling collection, demonstrating the range of debate over practices of image worship, will expand our appreciation of the objects that serve, for many, as supports of divine presence. Of primary interest to scholars of Asian religions, it will also appeal to art historians, anthropologists, semioticians, and students of religion who concern themselves with images, icons, and material culture.

About the Author(s)

Phyllis Granoff and Koichi Shinohara are both professors in the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University.

Table of Contents


Part 1
Defining Images: The Sacred Objects of Indian Religions

1. Images and Their Ritual Use in Medieval India: Hesitations and Contradictions
2. Theology as History: Divine Images, Imagination, and Rituals in India
3. Of Metal and Clothes: The Location of Distinctive Features in Divine Iconography

Part 2
Images and the Elite Intellectual Culture: Accommodations and Ambiguities

4. At the Right Side of the Teacher: Imagination, Imagery, and Image in Vedic and Saiva Initiation
5. The Competing Hermeneutics of Image Worship in Hinduism (Fifth to Eleventh Century AD
6. Stories of Miraculous Images and Paying Respect to the Three Jewels: A Discourse on Image Worship in Seventh-Century China

Part 3
Recreating the Context of Image Worship: Case Studies

7. Icon and Incantation: The Goddess Zhunti and the Role of Images in the Occult Buddhism of China
8. The Tenjukoku Shucho Mandara: Reconstruction of the Iconography and Ritual Context
9. Obaku Zen Portrait Painting and Its Sino-Japanese Heritage
10. Ritual and Image at Angkor Wat



The essays are uniformly informative and well written. All of the essays in this collection are well-written and insightful. They certainly fulfill their mandate of dealing with images in Asian religions.
- Alexander Soucy, St. Mary’s University, Studies in Religion, 34/3-4, 2005.

The editors achieve clarity and uniformity, but not staid scholarly homogeneity. We have authors in contention and in agreement, and a sense throughout of a unifying agenda of research. The book is ideal for scholars who conduct research into the visual cultures of Asia and its historical debates. However, it is rare among collections of essays in that the editors have managed to make these essays, and the work as a whole, equally appealing to students, particularly undergraduates, in classes that deal with visual culture and religious history in general.

The editors wish to present a collection of essays that is unified by a set of important questions regarding the practices of interacting with religious visual images and sites in Asia, and to do so in a way that is historical, textual, and ethnographic. They want to push forward the scholarly understanding f these modes of interaction, and present new ideas based on solid research. In all these endeavours, this volume performs exceptionally well.
-Christian Lee Novetzke, University of Toronto Quarterly, Vol.76, No.1, Winter 2007

Sample Chapter

The online version of this book is currently unavailable.

Related Topics

Asian Studies

Other Ways To Order

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