Art as Action
Art as Action
Representation as Ritual
Chapter Three addresses how the structure of the murals created a performative ritual space. The murals presented paths of action for the viewer, ranging from scenes of homage to the installation of protective devices within the temple. The murals also represented and encoded models to encourage viewers to participate in particular religious activities, and specifically demonstrated the potential future benefits of giving to sustain the sāsana. Yet, they moved beyond representing religious ideas by commemorating the Buddha and exhorting specific forms of ritual action. The wall paintings and the buildings in which they were housed addressed the devotee’s body, not just his or her mind. Entering and being enclosed within the Buddha’s life stories and hence his community, as well as being surrounded by luxury goods and potential benefits, protective diagrams and chants, and normative religious activities was part of the process of devotion and reification of the concepts expressed by the structure as a whole. The envelopment was a performative action, ritually invoking and honoring the Buddha and pulling practitioners into these multiple potential experiences.
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