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  • Thumbnail for Priests afix Sundaresvara on Golden Horse vehicle
    Priests afix Sundaresvara on Golden Horse vehicle

    Priests place prabha (ornamental arch) over Siva Sundaresvara on Golden Horse vehicle, completing decorations for processio; Minaksi temple, Avani Mula, 2007; Keywords: sundaresvara, vehicles, priests, decoration

  • Thumbnail for Deities in Seven-color vehicle, in Kalyanamandapa
    Deities in Seven-color vehicle, in Kalyanamandapa

    Deities in Seven-color Vehicle, in Kalyana Mandapa, prior to start of 11th evening procession.; Minaksi temple, Avani Mula, 2007; prior to 11th evening procession; Keywords: deities, vehicles

  • Thumbnail for Sundaresvara on Golden Horse vehicle
    Sundaresvara on Golden Horse vehicle

    Siva Sundaresvara on Golden Horse vehicle.; Minaksi temple, Avani Mula, 2007; Keywords: sundaresvara, vehicles

  • Thumbnail for Temple Shops
    Temple Shops

    Shops in Minaksi temple complex, along Viravasantaraya Mandapa passageway on east side of temple complex.; Minaksi temple; Keywords: temple

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 034, Hall for Memorial Tablets, interior
    Muroji, 034, Hall for Memorial Tablets, interior

    This image shows the interior of the Hall for Memorial Tablets, the Hall of Eternal Light, at Muroji, built in the early 20th century. A monthly memorial service for Kukai is held here and memorial services for residents of the local village are celebrated here. -- The different traditions of Buddhism, such as esoteric Buddhism or Pure Land, as well as different schools, such as Tendai and Shingon, sometimes employ differing ritual objects in their ceremonies, objects that have grown out of differing historic traditions, some based in very ancient Indian rituals, some in Tibetan Buddhism, etc. Nonetheless, in this image we can see ritual objects that are common across various schools. These include, most basically, before the altar, an incense burner, candlesticks, and flower vases, objects found before any Buddhist altar, including home altars. Other objects seen here and common across traditions include the "bell" on the right, struck to announce the opening of services, the square area for the celebrants defined by the low railing, the canopies (often stylized lotus blossoms constructed of wood or metal) or banners over altars and images, small square tables flanking the cushion of the celebrant, tables used to hold ritual objects or offerings, a low table directly in front of the celebrant that may hold offerings and serve as sutra lectern. To the right here we see part of the rim of a taiko, a large, powerful drum, one of a variety of musical instruments often employed in ceremonies.

  • Thumbnail for Shinto shrine, Yamagishi neighborhood in Morioka
    Shinto shrine, Yamagishi neighborhood in Morioka

    This is a small, local shrine on a hillside above the Yamagishi neighborhood of Morioka. -- Many of the elements seen here are common to all shrines. The two sculptures are koma inu, shrine dogs -- guardian figures. In this instance, they are foxes, indicating that this is an inari shrine, one associated with the kami of rice. Other shrines often have guardian figures that closely resemble the mythological beasts known as Chinese lions, or semi-human figures that reflect the Nio statues of Buddhist temple gates. Along with the red paint evident at this particular shrine, these are elements indicative of the merging of elements of Shinto and Buddhism. E.g., indigenous Shinto preference probably would be for unpainted wood, such as is seen at the shrine at Ise, and the red paint here is probably indicative of the influence of Chinese and Korean Buddhist architecture. -- The rice straw rope and its zig-zags of folded paper denote the place where a kami , a spirit, resides. The cloth pulls hanging down in front of the rice straw rope have bells attached at their top - one would pull on the cloth or rope pulls to produce a sound in the bells to summon the attention of the kami, in order to offer a prayer or give thanks.

  • Thumbnail for Todaiji, Nandaimon, the Great South Gate, Nara
    Todaiji, Nandaimon, the Great South Gate, Nara

    This is a photograph of the Nandaimon, the Great South Gate, at Todaiji in Nara. Taken in early December, with mist and fog in the chilly late afternoon air, it conveys a sense of mood of time and place. It was taken from inside the outer precinct of the temple, looking out through the gate - i.e., this is the gate viewed from inside the temple compound. -- In retaliation for support of the Minamoto clan by armed monks from Todaiji, at the end of the Genpei civil war, the Taira clan burned the compound at Todaiji to the ground in 1180. When the Minamoto emerged victorious, they vowed to rebuild the Todaiji compound and did so by the end of the 12th century. -- The other buildings in the Todaiji compound have been damaged by fire or earthquakes over the centuries and most have been rebuilt in different styles. The Nandaimon, the Great South Gate, alone, remains in its original form, that which was built in the late 12th century.

  • Thumbnail for Shinto shrine, Shichigosan Day, children are brought to the local shrine
    Shinto shrine, Shichigosan Day, children are brought to the local shrine

    The children here are arriving at a shrine in late October for the celebration of Shichigosan -- Seven - five - three Day. On this day, girls who are seven or three years old and boys who are five are brought to their shrine in their best dress or in traditional dress for prayers for their well being, for a blessing. -- This particular Shichigosan celebration was on October 28, 2000, and was at the Hachiman Shrine in Morioka. The Hachiman Shrine is the primary Shinto shrine of Morioka, which is in Iwate Prefecture, on the Pacific side of northern most Honshu.

  • Thumbnail for Great Buddha statue at Kamakura
    Great Buddha statue at Kamakura

    The Great Buddha (Daibutsu) at Kamakura, a representation of Amida Buddha, was cast in 1252. The wooden building that surrounded it was swept away by a tidal wave, but the figure of the Buddha was unharmed and it has withstood repeated earthquakes, fires, and other calamities. It is 13.5 m (about 44 feet) high, making it the second largest statue of the Buddha in Japan, after the Daibutsu of Todaiji, Nara. Built without imperial or shogunal support, completed entirely with donations from the faithful, it is all the more impressive in its heroic scale.

  • Thumbnail for Shinto shrine, an infant is brought to the local shrine for a birth ritual
    Shinto shrine, an infant is brought to the local shrine for a birth ritual

    When an infant is one month old, it is taken by its parents to the local shrine for miyamairi, a birth ritual. By this ritual, the infant becomes a member of the shrine and is placing under the protection of the kami, the guardian spirit of the shrine. Traditionally, this is an infant's first trip out of its home.

  • Thumbnail for Byodoin, Hoodo, the Phoenix Hall, at Uji
    Byodoin, Hoodo, the Phoenix Hall, at Uji

    The so-called Phoenix Hall at the temple, Byodoin, in Uji. Built in 1053 by Fujiwara Yorimichi, the Phoenix Hall contains the Amida sculpture carved by Jocho, and the compound attempts to represent on earth the western paradise of Pure Land Buddhism. This image shows the Amida Hall as seen from directly across the pond directly in front of the hall. Because of the placement of the pond, the hall cannot be approached directly from the front, perhaps a physical assertion of the Heian aesthetic preference for indirection.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 035, Hall for Memorial Tablets, view from the porch at side of Hall
    Muroji, 035, Hall for Memorial Tablets, view from the porch at side of Hall

    This is a view looking down the mountain path from the porch of the Hall of Eternal Light. The image conveys a sense of the quiet beauty of the temple's isolated location in a crytomeria forest, in the mountains of Nara Prefecture, southeast of Nara City.

  • Thumbnail for School computer classroom, middle school
    School computer classroom, middle school

    This is the computer classroom in a middle school in Japan. The computers are used to complete assignments from other classes, as well as for instruction in computer class, per se, so that the students are learning to employ computers across the curriculum.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 012,  Mirokudo, interior view, center altar
    Muroji, 012, Mirokudo, interior view, center altar

    This image shows the center altar in the Miroku Hall at Muroji. The sculpture on the altar is a carved wooden figure of the Miroku Bosatsu, a sculpture that is perhaps 3 feet high, dating from the 8th century. Dr. Fowler points out that this sculpture almost certainly was not the original sculpture on the center altar, which would have been a figure of the Miroku Buddha, rather than a bosatsu. -- Although some of the ritual objects in Buddhist temples vary somewhat from one sect to another, some objects are used in all sects. In this image we see the cushion on which the celebrant would sit in formal Japanese sitting posture, knees bent, sitting on the ankles. The rounded bronze object to the right is a "bell," with its open end at the top; it is struck on the outside with a padded stick, which produces the rich, resonant sound that accompanies and punctuates Buddhist chants. Also evident are three items found at all Buddhists altars, namely, flowers, incense, and light (candles). Often, as here, there also are offerings of fruit.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 017, Kanjodo,  Main Hall, view in front
    Muroji, 017, Kanjodo, Main Hall, view in front

    This image shows a small rectangular pool, surrounded by a stone fence, and the front façade of the Main Hall, sometimes referred to as the Initiation hall, beyond it. Both are located on a level area on the side of the hill, up a short flight of stone steps from the level of the kondo. The Kanjodo is used for initiation rites in Esoteric Buddhism. Muroji is associated with Shingon, the esoteric sect founded by the priest Kukai in the 8th century, upon his return from study in China. Shingon is the sect known as the "True Word" sect and is rooted in Tantric Buddhism. Kukai is often referred to by his posthumous name, Kobo Daishi, "Great National Teacher."

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 019,  Kanjodo, Main Hall, front exterior view
    Muroji, 019, Kanjodo, Main Hall, front exterior view

    This is a view of the front of theMain Hall, the Initiation Hall at Muroji. Like the kondo, it is quite modest in size and is set into its natural setting on the side of the mountain, feeling integrated with its surroundings, rather than feeling imposed upon the setting or apart from it. The hall is symmetrical, being five bays wide and also five bays deep. The front portion of the hall is open, but the rear portion is only to initiates. This edifice has been designated as a National Treasure.

  • Thumbnail for Shinto shrine near Buddhist temple at Hiraizumi
    Shinto shrine near Buddhist temple at Hiraizumi

    Up a small rise within the compound of Chusonji temple, at Hiraizumi, is this small Shinto shrine, set into the woods. It is very common in Japan to find small Shinto shrines within the grounds of Buddhist temples (e.g., there is a small Shinto shrine on the island in the garden pond at Ryoanji, a Rinzai Zen temple in Kyoto). Shinto and Buddhism are not mutually exclusive in Japanese culture and it is probably true that most Japanese would regard themselves as being both Shinto and Buddhist. -- see also: images of garden, Ryoanji; images in Colorado College Japanese Religion Collection

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 020, five-story pagoda, view of Pagoda from side porch of Kanjodo
    Muroji, 020, five-story pagoda, view of Pagoda from side porch of Kanjodo

    Standing on the veranda on the left side of the Initiation Hall, looking up, back, and to the left of the Initiation Hall, one sees the five-story pagoda that rises through the trees behind the Initiation Hall. This image gives a clear sense of the location of the pagoda in relation to the Initiation Hall and also a clear indication of the lack of symmetry of the positioning of the various elements of the compound at Muroji.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 021,  five-story pagoda, steps leading up to the pagoda
    Muroji, 021, five-story pagoda, steps leading up to the pagoda

    The pagoda at Muroji is located on a level carved out of the hillside perhaps thirty feet or so (vertically) above the level of the Main Hall and its pool. The stone steps shown here are to the left of the Main Hall and lead one directly up toward the pagoda, enhancing the sense of the height and floating quality of the pagoda, as one ascends the steps.

  • Thumbnail for Folk dancers perform within grounds surrounding Chusonji, Hiraizumi
    Folk dancers perform within grounds surrounding Chusonji, Hiraizumi

    These dancers are performing a traditional folk dance, a deer dance, during a fall festival at Chusonji, in Hiraizumi

  • Thumbnail for Thorp Collection 025, Guizhou-Sichuan border
    Thorp Collection 025, Guizhou-Sichuan border

    Guizhou-Sichuan border. This image and all others identified as ecasia000072 through ecasia000278, are scans of images from the James Thorp Collection, Earlham College. An explanation and description of the collection and its origin are included in the description of image I.D. ecasia000072, the first Thorp image presented in this project collection.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 005,  Koi in a small pond near the Nio Gate
    Muroji, 005, Koi in a small pond near the Nio Gate

    On one's left as one walks along the path just inside the Nio gate at Muroji, is a small pond with lilly pads and koi .

  • Thumbnail for Tamba pottery, view 12., detail of the Ichino kiln
    Tamba pottery, view 12., detail of the Ichino kiln

    Closer view of the side of the Ichino kiln, showing the arched opening, the door, into one of the ware chambers. Piled next to the opening are the brick blocks that will be used to close off the opening for the next firing. Bundles of wood are stored on top of the arch and will be totally dried by the heat of the kiln during the early stages of the firing. Although there appear to be a couple of square kiln shelves to the left of the door in this photo, the Tamba kilns still are stacked largely using the traditional means of loading them, which means the use of saggers and/or the stacking of pots on top of one another, with wads of clay and high-silica ash wash between them, to prevent them from sticking to one another.

  • Thumbnail for Tamba pottery, view 14., kiln chamber being rebuilt, Ichino kiln
    Tamba pottery, view 14., kiln chamber being rebuilt, Ichino kiln

    At the time of the visit to the Ichino workshop, one chamber of the kiln was being rebuilt, giving us a very interesting look at the structure of a Tamba kiln. The bricks used to construct the flues appear to be either commercially produced brick or, at least, carefully pressed hand-made brick. The brick of the arch, on the other hand, is obviously hand-formed brick and less uniform in size and shape. The arch structure is, obviously, only one brick thick -- perhaps about 5 inches -- and, over that single course of brick, the arch has been mudded over with a layer of clay.

  • Thumbnail for Thorp Collection 043, Luofengcheng (the place where the "Phoenix" fell)
    Thorp Collection 043, Luofengcheng (the place where the "Phoenix" fell)

    Luofengcheng (the place where the "Phoenix" fell). This image and all others identified as ecasia000072 through ecasia000278, are scans of images from the James Thorp Collection, Earlham College. An explanation and description of the collection and its origin are included in the description of image I.D. ecasia000072, the first Thorp image presented in this project collection.