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  • Thumbnail for View from portico of Garan building
    View from portico of Garan building

    This is the view from the portico of one of the old temple structures along the path toward the center of the Garan. In the distance is the large Lecture Hall, and to the left is the oldest standing structure, the Fudo Hall, which dates from the 12th century.

  • Thumbnail for The Miedo Hall in the Garan
    The Miedo Hall in the Garan

    The Miedo, meaning "Hall of the Honorable Portrait," houses an ancient portrait of Kukai, Koyasan's ninth century founder, said to have been painted by his disciple.

  • Thumbnail for Temple gate
    Temple gate

    This is one of the more imposing old gates on the main street in Koyasan.

  • Thumbnail for Horyuji, view 12, Yumedono, Hall of Dreams, exterior
    Horyuji, view 12, Yumedono, Hall of Dreams, exterior

    The Yumedono, Hall of Dreams, part of the eastern temple compound at Horyuji (perhaps 100 or so yards east of the main compound of Horyuji). It is a beautifully designed and proportioned octagonal building, constructed on a stone platform with four stairways corresponding with the four directions. On the peak of the tile roof is a metal jewel representing the jewel of Buddhist wisdom. The hall was built on the site of a private chapel that had been built for Shotoku. The important sculpture known as the Guze Kannon is housed in the Yumedono (it is placed on display one day each year).

  • Thumbnail for Ise, Inner Shrine, pebble ground of next rebuilding site
    Ise, Inner Shrine, pebble ground of next rebuilding site

    The grand shrine at Ise is rebuilt once every twenty years to assure its purity. There are two sites immediately adjacent to one another. The buildings on the left here, screened by the board fence, are the current shrine buildings, while the pebble covered expanse on the right is where the shrine will be rebuilt next time. The small structure standing on the pebbled field covers and protects, keeps pure, the ground directly under the spot where the sacred imperial regalia will be housed in the honden, the main shrine building, when it is rebuilt the next time.

  • Thumbnail for Horyuji, view 11, cloister walk, west side of compound at turn for sutra repository
    Horyuji, view 11, cloister walk, west side of compound at turn for sutra repository

    A pleasant image. Afternoon sun casting a pattern of light and shadow through the wooden grill work of the western wall of the walk surrounding the compound at Horyuji,looking northward at the point at which the image in view 7 was taken.

  • Thumbnail for Byodoin, Amida Buddha, view 1
    Byodoin, Amida Buddha, view 1 by Jocho (Joochoo)

    The Amida figure in the Hoodo, the so-called Phoenix Hall, at Byodoin was created by the master sculptor, Jocho. Expressive of the spirit ofthe Pure Land sect and the spirit of its time, it is quiet, meditative, approachable sculpture, just as the Hoodo, itself, is approachable because it was built on a human scale. -- The sculpture is carved wood with gold leaf. It was carved from several blocks of wood joined together, a revolutionary and very important technique developed by Jocho and his studio. -- Behind the figure of the contemplative Amida is a large, flowing aureole, flame-like, with apsaras floating on clouds. Overhead is an elaborate canopy of carved lattice work. -- The dimensions of the hall containing the figure are relatively small, which brings the viewer into close proximity with the Amida sculpture, engendering a sense of an intimate environment, rather than a sense of the deity figure being far removed from us and our aspirations. -- Note that this image of the Byodoin Amida (and view 2, as well) were photographed at eye level, as one experiences them in the Phoenix Hall. Many art history texts present an image from an excellent but different point of view, that of being several feet above the floor on a ladder or platform, which is not how the Amida would be seen by a worshipper.

  • Thumbnail for Horyuji, view 07, Five storied pagoda, exterior, north and west sides
    Horyuji, view 07, Five storied pagoda, exterior, north and west sides

    This is the northwest corner of the Five-storied Pagoda. It is seen here from the ambulatory, the clositered walk that defines and encloses the compound. (At this point, the north-south ambulatory along the west side of the compound turns east for a short distance, before turning back north. This slight "dog leg" in the cloister walk occurs just south of the sutra repository, which is built into the cloister wall just south of the Kodo. The Kodo is the Lecture Hall, the south-facing building that defines the northern side of the compound. The Belfry, the Sutra Respository, and the Kodo were originally outside of the cloister wall, the original north side of which crossed the compound, east to west, next to the north of the Kondo and the Pagoda. It is worth noting here that the north-south axis of Buddhist temples and compounds is almost inviolable and is based, originally, in the concerns of geomancy, Chinese in origin.)

  • Thumbnail for Environmental Implications of Japan's Geology 19, Horyuji Gate (AD 607), Nara, survivor of many earthquakes.
    Environmental Implications of Japan's Geology 19, Horyuji Gate (AD 607), Nara, survivor of many earthquakes.

    Horyuji Gate (AD 607), Nara, survivor of many earthquakes. -- This very old structure is persuasive evidence of the durability of wooden buildings during earthquakes. In its nearly 1,400 year history, it has survived countless earthquakes, emerging relatively unscathed because of the flex inherent in wooden structures.

  • Thumbnail for Landscapes of Japan, 16, Rice fields, Mt. Iwate, west of Morioka.
    Landscapes of Japan, 16, Rice fields, Mt. Iwate, west of Morioka.

    Rice fields, Mt. Iwate, west of Morioka. -- Here, competing uses for flat alluvial plains for agriculture and urban expansion are evident. Originally this was all agricultural, but now the growing suburbs of Morioka are encroaching on the land. The volcanic cone of Mt. Iwate rises above the plain.

  • Thumbnail for Daibutsuden, the Great Buddha Hall, at Todaiji, Nara, a video tour
    Daibutsuden, the Great Buddha Hall, at Todaiji, Nara, a video tour

    This movie presents a walk through the Daibutsuden, the Great Buddha Hall, at the temple, Todaiji, in Nara, Japan. The video is approximately 10 minutes long and is comprised of 7 minutes of a walking tour through the Daibutsuden, with ambient sound, but no narration, and concludes with 3 minutes of scrolling text narrative. Created in mini-DV format, it is presented here as a QuickTime movie, compressed to CD-ROM quality. Depending upon your set-up, the video may open directly on your screen or it may be downloaded to your desktop. Download in either case normally may take from 3 to 5 minutes, although it may take longer if you are working with a slow connection.

  • Thumbnail for Japan, 1951:  View of the Imperial Throne Room
    Japan, 1951: View of the Imperial Throne Room

    The imperial throne room has long been used for the crowning of new emperors. The decorated panelling at the back depicts officials wearing the same court costumes as those of the T'ang dynasty of China. This period in the 7th and 8th centuries was the time of greatest cultural borrowing from China. --This was the description to accompany this image, as written by Arthur O. Rinden, the photographer. His description, which he referred to as a "script" was to accompany a slide show of images for his family and others.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora Buddhist Caves, Chaitya Hall entrance, far view
    Ellora Buddhist Caves, Chaitya Hall entrance, far view

    This Chaitya Hall or place of assembly for monks and pilgrims is adorned with figures of amorous couples across the top, gandharvas and apsaras over the balcony doorway, and bodhisattvas at door level. All of these figures are auspicious symbols, appropriately adorning a place of religious practice. A popular destination for school field trips, children learn about the early history of these sites.

  • Thumbnail for Kailash Cave Temple, inner sanctum
    Kailash Cave Temple, inner sanctum

    This photo shows the steps leading up to the doorway of the Kailash Temple inner sanctum. In the center of the small shrine room is a large Shiva lingam and yoni positioned to allow only a single line of people to circumambulate this aniconic representation of the divine. This inner sanctum is continuously illuminated by one kerosene lamp.

  • Thumbnail for Ellora Hindu Caves, mango detail
    Ellora Hindu Caves, mango detail

    Mango tree limbs, laden with fruit, are carved over doorways in the caves as auspicious symbols of fertility and good fortune.

  • Thumbnail for Kailash Cave Temple, entrance
    Kailash Cave Temple, entrance

    In the 8th and 9th centuries CE, the Kailash Cave Temple was carved out of the volcanic rock that formed countless plateaus in the western ghats (small mountain range), part of the geological formation known as the Deccan Plateau. Part of a group of 34 caves carved into the side of this plateau, Kailash, cave number 16, is monumental by any standards. The Kailash rock-cut temple stands 30 meters (99 feet) high, 52 meters (170 feet) in length, and 33 meters (108 feet) wide. The other 33 caves, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain, were created by digging into the side of the plateau much like other cave dwellings, but Kailash appears to have been literally excavated from the top in order to create a free-standing temple encircled by smaller cave shrines.

  • Thumbnail for Kailash Cave Temple, inner sanctum doorway
    Kailash Cave Temple, inner sanctum doorway

    This doorway leads into a small shrine room with a lingam carved in a yoni, symbol of the union of Shiva and Shakti, the divine male and female. The light of the candle, the only illumination in this inner shrine room, is visible through the doorway.

  • Thumbnail for Great Wall
    Great Wall

    A photograph of a section of the Great Wall outside of Beijing.

  • Thumbnail for Red Door, Suzhou Gardens
    Red Door, Suzhou Gardens

    Photograph of the natural splendor of Suzhou's famous gardens. This view features a distinctive round red door set into a white wall.

  • Thumbnail for Window in Suzhou Gardens
    Window in Suzhou Gardens

    Photo of window looking out onto a section of Suzhou's beautiful gardens, dating to the Ming dynasty.

  • Thumbnail for Nagasaki Shrine
    Nagasaki Shrine

    A building at a shrine in Nagasaki. Note the traditional rice-rope decoration hanging above the doorway.

  • Thumbnail for Old Entrance to Forbidden City
    Old Entrance to Forbidden City

    Photograph of the tower at old entrance to the Forbidden City in Beijing.

  • Thumbnail for Engakuji Shrine
    Engakuji Shrine

    Keeping with tradition, this shrine building has a roof made of hay or thatch.

  • Thumbnail for Snowfall in Kyoto
    Snowfall in Kyoto

    A snowfall in Kyoto doesn't prevent Todaiji, housing a large Buddha, from looking majestic.

  • Thumbnail for Old Fashioned Way
    Old Fashioned Way

    Around the turn of the century, farmers continued to thatch their roofs despite the modern structures that were being erected in the cities.