With the generous support of the Ellen Bayard Weedon Foundation, the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia presents four lectures on South and East Asian art each year. The next lecture in the series is “Twanging Bows and Throwing Rice: Warding Off Evil in Medieval Japanese Birth Scenes” by Yui Suzuki, Associate Professor of Art History, University of Maryland, on Thursday, February 27. The lecture will begin at 6:00pm in Campbell Hall’s Room 153.
Although a transformational life experience, childbirth has not received much focused attention in art history. In medieval Japan, birthing scenes were often inserted into medieval picture scrolls (emaki) to evoke the larger Buddhist notion of suffering. Despite the long established practice of medicine in Japan, parturition pictures reveal that the upper echelons of society relied heavily on multifarious networks of ritual specialists and their magico-religious rites. This talk will examine images of the diverse performances by religious professionals and the reasons why such elaborate measures were taken to ensure the safety of mother and child.
Yui Suzuki is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Maryland. She has taught at UMD since 2006. Suzuki is a specialist in Japanese Buddhist art and her research explores issues of Japanese religiosity and its manifestations in visual/material culture. She is the author of Medicine Master Buddha: The Iconic Worship of Yakushi in Heian Japan (Leiden: Brill, 2012), and her essays have appeared in Archives of Asian Art, RES and other scholarly publications. Suzuki’s most recent research examines images of ritual objects and practices of spirit possession in Japanese medieval Buddhism.