Shotoku Cults and the Mapping of Medieval Japanese Buddhism

Plotting the Prince Plotting the Prince: Shotoku Cults and the Mapping of Medieval Japanese Buddhism, by Kevin Gray Carr, traces the development of conceptual maps of the world created through the telling of stories about Prince Shōtoku (573?–622?), an eminent statesman who is credited with founding Buddhism in Japan. It analyzes his place in the sacred landscape and the material relics of the cult of personality dedicated to him, focusing on the art created from the tenth to fourteenth centuries. The book asks not only who Shōtoku was, but also how images of his life served the needs of devotees in early medieval Japan.

“In this remarkable study Kevin Carr shows how Prince Shōtoku became one of the most widely revered among the many nobles and priests who implanted the Buddhist faith in the hearts of the Japanese people. A crown prince who served as regent under his aunt, Empress Suiko, he directed the resources of the state to support the religion at a crucial moment in its arrival from the Asian mainland. At his country villa near Nara he built the famous Hōryū-ji monastery, whose Eastern Precinct became a shrine to his memory after his death. Carr introduces exciting new pictorial evidence of the growth of the Shōtoku cult in Japan’s Middle Ages, and he brilliantly analyzes the intriguing eleventh-century panoramic paintings of Shōtoku’s life that covered three walls of the E-den (Picture Hall) in the Eastern Precinct.” —John M. Rosenfield, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Professor of East Asian Art, Emeritus, Harvard University

November 2012 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3463-0 / $40.00 (CLOTH)