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Perspectives on Indian Art during the Meiji and Taisho Period

강희정 1

1서울대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The Japanese art-historian Hamada Gosaku wrote an article under the title of 「Concerning on the Greco-Indian Buddhist Art (希臘印度式佛敎美 術について)」 in the first art-history journal of Japan named 『Kokka (國華)』 in 1906. The word of Greco-Indian is an important perspective of how the intellectuals at those periods viewed Asian Art History. Originally, the term 希臘印度式 in Japanese, is a translation of the words ‘Greco-Indian’ or ‘Indo-Greek’, which were used by Western researchers. The concepts of ‘Greco-Indian’ art were not clear in their substances, but they were well comprehended by the Western scholars with prejudice in the 19th century. Japanese scholars used the pure translation of the term ‘Greco-Indian’. This means that the Japanese were largely depending on western concepts for the construction of the history of Japanese art. However, the images that the Japanese imagined about the Indian art differed from those of the Western’s. It was because the western point of view, based on the Orientalism towards India, was different, while the Japanese had to make the concept of the ‘East’. Okakura Tenshin emphasized the influence of India on the mural paintings of the Horyu-ji (法隆寺) Kondo, and the arts in the Shosoin (正倉院). He paid special attention on the cave temples and wall paintings in India like Ajanta, treated them as the important origin of Japanese art. In 1893, Ito Chuta claimed the applications of entasis on the columns in Horyu-ji as a result of the cultural exchange between the East and the West. And he named them ‘Greek Doric’ order. During the Meiji Era, the Japanese researchers fully accepted the Western point of view about the Indian art rather than creating their own perspective, and actively researching the arts. As a result, they understood Indian arts with an obscure angle of Greco-Indian art, and tried to explain their arts on that basis. The Japanese in the Meiji Era argued India as the origin of the Oriental spirits, while explaining the Indian Buddhist art under the Greek traditions. And they highly estimated the Indian art influenced by the Greek. This vague understanding of India resulted from remarkably subjective creation of the Orientalism, which was spread at Meiji times. Though the Indian art was evaluated as the very origin of the Eastern culture, India was only imagined by the Japanese. It was inevitable for the Japanese, who thought the Indian Buddhist art was the origin of theirs, to focus more on the Gandharan art than Indian subcontinent art. This period, in which several regions of Gandhara were excavated and investigated, was also same time that Japanese started to pay attention to the Indian art. Considering from the point of World History, Japan’s focusing on India coincided with the movements of the West. In Taisho era, after the Meiji, Japanese more widely noticed and researched Indian art. Taki Seichi, who had visited the West in 1911, understood the new trend of Western scholars, and showed us how much the Japanese were sensitive to the Western scholars’ research methods. He pointed out that it was natural to discuss the influence of Gandhara on the eastern regions. As he mentioned, it is persuasive since Gandhara is located in the north-west region of India, and is a gateway to the Silk Road area and China. His concrete works are easily compared with those of the antecedents who abstractly understood Indian art on the basis of Gandharan art. Even if the way to research on Indian art had been developed to be more precise and specific until Taisho times, their intention, to find out the origin of Buddhist art from India, was not changed. The method of study was accordingly dependant on the similarity of the external shape between Indian and Japanese art. The Japanese tried to raise the value of Japanese art by showing the Greek art influence on Japanese art, which was importantly regarded in the West. Since they were not free from the paradigm of the Buddhist art penetrated into Japan, they focused on the certain art forms which were transmitted to the Silk Road and China from India. Therefore they chose some kind of art according to their necessity. Gandharan sculpture, Sanchi stupa, and Ajanta murals were considered as the main objects to be compared. Since modern Japanese still accept this idea as considerable until today, it is worth discussing to research the Japanese attitude to Indian art in the early 20th century.

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