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Bronze 青銅 and copper 銅 were the most popular sculpting materials (as well as dry lacquer 乾漆像 and clay 塑像 by the Nara era).Wood statues too were mostly imported or copied from Korean and Chinese models, but it wasn’t until the late 7th century that wood statues exceeded bronze sculptures in popularity.
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Korea and China bring Buddhism to Japan during the Asuka Period, with the earliest sculptures and texts imported first from Korea then China.
In subsequent decades, as the Japanese made their own sculptures, the resulting pieces looked almost identical to their Korean and Chinese counterparts.
Extant statues from this period display a profound artistic influence from both nations, although the Korean influence is subsequently supplanted by the powerful artistic forces flowing out of China’s Tang dynasty (Jp. Small gilt-bronze statues (kondōzō 金銅像) were by far the most popular form of Buddhist art in early Japan. BRONZE STATUES PHOTO TOUR In the Asuka & Nara periods, gilt bronze statues (kondō 金銅) were imported in great number from Korea and China, and reproduced in Japan’s court-sponsored workshops.
Legend says the central statue was made in the image of Prince Shōtoku Taishi. Reportedly made by Kuratsukuri no Tori 鞍作止利, a Chinese (or perhaps Korean) emigrant who founded the Tori Busshi 止利仏師 school of early Buddhist sculpture in Japan.
Buddhist images of the Asuka Period were made primarily by artisans from Korea & China who lived in Japan.The period's mainstream works were the Tori-shiki 止利式 images of the Shaka Triad (shown above, by Kura-tukuri-no-Tori), the Asuka Daibutsu, the Guze Kannon, and many others.Tori-shiki sculpture was influenced by the Buddhist art of China’s Northern Wei 魏 kingdom (late 4th to 6th centuries).The halo is known as Ikkō Sanzon Kōhai 一光三尊光背, meaning “single-light triad halo,” because all three figures are enveloped inside one halo.The halo and its pointed top are also known as Funagata Kōhai 舟形光背 or “boat-shaped halo.” Below text by Henry Smith at Columbia University From “Prince Shōtoku’s Temple, The Riddles of Hōryūji”The inscription on the Shaka triad describes, in essence, a legend that the statue was created as a life-size replica of Prince Shōtoku Taishi himself (the founder of Hōryūji Temple, the great patron of Early Buddhism in Japan).The statue was made, it is said, at the time of his death, as a prayer for his ascent into the Pure Land.