By Sherry D. Fowler
Muroji, a magnificent temple founded in the eighth century, is known both for its dramatic location and the exceptional quality of its ritual objects and art dating from the ninth and tenth centuries of the Heian period. Sherry Fowler makes extensive use of primary sources to explore the circumstances surrounding the creation and function of the temple's main images and considers why major works of early Heian sculpture were housed in such a remote mountain setting. Employing a multifaceted approach that looks at Muroji's art and architecture in socio-political context, she explores the establishment of the temple, its role in the religious life and power structure of the region, and the ways in which the temple reconfigured its early history to suit its later circumstances. Emerging from Fowler's study are pervasive themes relating to worship and practice at Muroji that highlight plurality of practice (of different schools of Buddhism as well as Shinto); flexibility of practice and its impact on sculptural icons; the relationship of Muroji to other temple/shrine complexes; and the association of the temple with women's worship.
Sherry Fowler received her Ph.D. in Japanese Buddhist Art History from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1995. She is currently Professor of Japanese Art History at University of Kansas.
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