Statue of Shōtoku Taishi (JAPNHIST 240)

Shotoku Taishi ScultureA sample of student research from the Fall 2016 iteration of "JAPNHIST 240," an advanced graduate seminar that examines works in the Harvard Art Museums in art historical, literary, and religious context with an eye toward future publications and exhibitions. The Fall 2016 seminar focused on the celebrated thirteenth-century Prince Shôtoku at Age Two (99.1979.1), the "Sedgewick statue," the oldest example of this type of Shôtoku Taishi sculpture, which contained a remarkable cache of devotional objects. Nearly perfectly preserved in the manner of a time capsule, this collection of texts, miniature sculptures, and relics, sheds new light on Kamakura religious history and practice. The work below contributes to an ongoing attempt to understand the logic behind this ensemble of interred objects, the reasons behind the sculpture's creation, and the significance of  Shôtoku worship and dedicatory offerings by nuns and laypeople in the medieval period.

Seminar participants received verbal and written feeback on the work below from the three instructors, Ryuichi Abe, Melissa McCormick, and Rachel Saunders, as well as from auditors: Chikamoto Kensuke, Helen Hardacre, Kamei Wakana, and Kuniko McVey. Research was facilitated by the staff at the Harvard Art Museums Study Center, and Angela Chang, Assistant Director, Conservator and Head of Objects lab.