Zen and Material Culture

ISBN : 9780190469306

Pamela Winfield; Steven Heine
360 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Aug 2017
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  • The first interdisciplinary study on Zen Buddhism that brings together scholars from religious studies, art history, and the history of material culture in Japan
  • Includes broad historical and geographical scope; ranges from ancient India and medieval China to present-day Zen in Japan and America
  • Traces the interreligious and intersectarian Buddhist influences on Japanese Zen material culture

The stereotype of Zen Buddhism as a minimalistic or even immaterial meditative tradition persists in the Euro-American cultural imagination. This volume calls attention to the vast range of "stuff" in Zen by highlighting the material abundance and iconic range of the SōtōRinzai, and =Obaku sects in Japan. Chapters on beads, bowls, buildings, staffs, statues, rags, robes, and even retail commodities in America all shed new light on overlooked items of lay and monastic practice in both historical and contemporary perspectives. Nine authors from the cognate fields of art history, religious studies, and the history of material culture analyze these "Zen c matters" in all four senses of the phrase: the interdisciplinary study of Zen's matters (objects and images) ultimately speaks to larger Zen matters (ideas, ideals) that matter (in the predicate sense) to both male and female practitioners, often because such matters (economic considerations) help to ensure the cultural and institutional survival of the tradition.
Zen and Material Culture expands the study of Japanese Zen Buddhism to include material inquiry as an important complement to mainly textual, institutional, or ritual studies. It also broadens the traditional purview of art history by incorporating the visual culture of everyday Zen objects and images into the canon of recognized masterpieces by elite artists. Finally, the volume extends Japanese material and visual cultural studies into new research territory by taking up Zen's rich trove of materia liturgica and supplementing the largely secular approach to studying Japanese popular culture. This groundbreaking volume will be a resource for anyone whose interests lie at the intersection of Zen art, architecture, history, ritual, tea ceremony, women's studies, and the fine line between Buddhist materiality and materialism.


Introduction to Zen Matters, Pamela D. Winfield and Steven Heine
1: "Thy Rod and Thy Staff They Discomfort Me:" Zen Staffs As Implements of Instruction, Steven Heine
2: Materializing the Zen Monastery, Pamela D. Winfield
3: Form and Function: Tea Bowls and the Problem of Zen in Chanoyu, Morgan Pitelka
4: Prayer Beads in Japanese Sōtō Zen, Michaela Mross
5: The Importance of Imports: Ingen's Material Culture at Manpukuji, Patricia J. Graham
6: Visual Culture in Japan's Imperial Rinzai Buddhist convents: The Making of Devotional Objects as Expressions of Religious Devotion and Practice, Patricia Fister
7: Golden Robe or Rubbish Robe? Interpretations of the Transmitted Robe in Tokugawa Period Zen Buddhist Thought, Diane E. Riggs
8: The Zen of Rags, Paula Arai
9: Zen Sells Zen Things: Meditation Supply, Right Livelihood, and Buddhist Retail, Gregory P.A. Levine
Sino-Japanese Glossary

About the author: 

Edited by Pamela D. Winfield, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Elon University, and Steven Heine, Director of the Asian Studies Program, Florida International University
Pamela D. Winfield is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Elon University, NC. She specializes in Japanese Buddhist art and doctrine in the esoteric and Zen traditions. Her previous book Icons and Iconoclasm in Japanese Buddhism: Kūkai and Dōgen on the Art of Enlightenment (Oxford University Press, 2013) won the annual Book Prize from the Association of Asian Studies Southeast Conference in 2015.
Steven Heine is Professor of Religious Studies and History, and Director of the Asian Studies Program at Florida International University in Miami, FL. A 2007 recipient of the Order of the Rising Sun Award from the Japanese government, Heine is the author of more than two dozen books and one hundred articles and book chapters on East Asian religions, especially the role of Zen in China and Japan and the relation between religiosity and society.

Paula Arai is an Associate Professor at Louisiana State University and author of Women Living Zen (Oxford University Press, 1999) and Bringing Zen Home (2011). She received her Ph.D. in Buddhist Studies from Harvard University in 1993, and her research has received generous support, including from Fulbright and the American Council of Learned Societies Fellowships. 

Patricia Fister is a Professor at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies in Kyoto. Over the past three decades, she has pioneered research in the field of Japanese women artists. Since moving to Japan she has been involved in organizing two exhibitions featuring Buddhist art by women: Art by Buddhist Nuns: Treasures from the Imperial Convents of Japan (Nomura Art Museum, Kyoto, 2003) and Amamonzeki, A Hidden Heritage: Treasures of the Japanese Imperial Convents (University of Art Museum, Tokyo University of the Arts, 2009). 

Patricia J. Graham, a former professor and museum curator, is an Adjunct Research Associate at the University of Kansas Center for East Asian Studies and a consultant and certified appraiser of Asian art for institutions, businesses, and private collectors. She has been the recipient of various fellowships: from the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, the Asian Cultural Council, the Fulbright Program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and elsewhere. Her many publications include Japanese Design: Art, Aesthetics, and Culture(2014), Faith and Power in Japanese Buddhist Art, 1600-2005 (2007), and Tea of the Sages: The Art of Sencha (1998).

Steven Heine is Professor of Religious Studies and History and Director of the Asian Studies Program at Florida International University. A recipient of the Emperor's Award from the Japanese government in 2007, Heine has published over two dozen books and lectured widely on East Asian religion and society, especially concerning the transition of Zen Buddhism from China to Japan as reflected in the writings and practices of the kōantradition. Heine's recent publications include Zen Skin, Zen Marrow: Will the Real Zen Buddhism Please Stand Up?(Oxford University Press, 2007), Like Cats and Dogs: Contesting the Mu Kōan in Zen Buddhism (Oxford University Press, 2013), and Zen Kōans(2014).

Gregory P. A. Levine is Associate Professor of the Art and Architecture of Japan and Buddhist Visual Cultures in the Department of History of Art, U.C. Berkeley. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and other grants and awards. His book, Daitokuji: The Visual Cultures of a Zen Monastery (2005), was a finalist in 2007 for the Charles Rufus Morey Prize (College Art Association).

Michaela Mross is Assistant Professor of Japanese Buddhism at Stanford University, and a former Shinjō Itō Postdoctoral Fellow for Japanese Buddhism at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests are Zen Buddhism, Buddhist rituals, sacred music, as well as manuscript and print culture in premodern Japan. She completed her PhD in Japanese Studies at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich in 2014 with a thesis on koshiki (Buddhist ceremonials) in the Sōtō school, after having conducted six years of full-time research in Japan.

Morgan Pitelka is Director of the Carolina Asia Center and Professor of Asian Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a historian of late medieval and early modern Japan, with particular interest in tea culture, the samurai, and material culture. His published works include Spectacular Accumulation: Material Culture, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and Samurai Sociability (2016), What's the Use of Art? Asian Visual and Material Culture in Context (2007, co-edited with Jan Mrazek), and Handmade Culture: Raku Potters, Patrons, and Tea Practitioners in Japan (2005).

Diane E. Riggs is a Faculty Specialist at Western Michigan University. She received her Ph.D. from the Asian Languages and Cultures department at UCLA in 2010. Her dissertation on "The Cultural and Religious Significance of Japanese Buddhist Vestments" is the first full length study of Japanese Buddhist robes that integrates textual sources with historical and contemporary material culture. She has recently written about debates over the form of the Buddhist robe in Tokugawa era Sōtō Zen in Dōgen and Sōtō Zen (Oxford University Press, 2015). 

Pamela D. Winfield is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Elon University, NC. She is the author of Icons and Iconoclasm in Japanese Buddhism: Kūkai and Dōgen on the Art of Enlightenment (Oxford University Press, 2013) which won the fourth annual book prize from the Association of Asian Studies Southeast Conference (2015).

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