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Seminars & Symposiums

Museum of Osaka University 19th Exhibit - "Glittering Gilded Bronze Buddha Statues: Pursuing the Ancient Craft"

2015-10-24 (Sat) - 2015-12-22 (Tue)

Gilded bronze Buddha statues are just as their name implies: Buddha statues crafted of bronze and gilded with gold plating. During the Asuka Period, which took place in the middle of the 6th century, when these gilded bronze Buddha statues were introduced to Japan, the emperor took one look at these statues and praised their craftsmanship, calling them kirakirashi, or "glittering."

The history of gilded bronze Buddha statues goes back to ancient times. We know of examples of these statues from 2nd and 3rd century Gandhara, and the first proper Buddha statues made in China were gilded. In Japan, the "golden age" of these gilded bronze Buddha statues was from the Asuka Period to the Nara Period, a prime example of these being the Great Buddha at Todaiji in Nara.

Bronze is an alloy composed of copper and tin or lead. In order to make gilded bronze Buddha statues, the bronze is melted and poured into a mold. It's easy to simply describe the process in just a few sentences, but in actuality, various methods were attempted in making these statues.

There are two types of molds, dirt and wax, and they both have their own distinct production process. Differences such as melting points, fluidity, color, and hardness can be found in the bronze itself depending on its composition. In addition to these, the method of securing the position of the internal and external molds and the way in which the spout and exit are constructed also hold many mysteries to the production methods of these gilded bronze Buddha statues. At this exhibit, we will display the production process models of the Buddha head at Kofukuji Temple, as well as some 40 examples of gilded bronze Buddha statues from all parts of Asia along with their component analyses in order to pursue the mysteries of the production methods of this ancient craft.

Related Events
Please visit the website of the Museum of Osaka University for more details.

Science Café at Machikaneyama -  The World of Buddha Statues of the Asuka Period

Saturday, November 7, 2015 - 14:00 ~ 15:30

Capacity: 30

Application deadline: Must arrive on or before October 17

KAGAMIYAMA Satoko, 3rd year, Doctoral Program, Graduate School of Letters, Osaka University

Metal-Casting Workshop Tour - Learn about casting methods from casting molds of kettles and water droppers

Sunday, November 15, 2015 - Morning session: 10:00 ~ 12:00 / Afternoon session: 14:00 ~ 16:00

Capacity: 7 for each session

Venue: Kakutani Metal-Casting Workshop, Yao City

Preliminary Study Session: Saturday, November 14, 2015 - 13:00~16:00

Venue: Machikaneyama Shugakukan, Museum of Osaka University

We'll take a tour of the a metal-casting workshop in Yao City, Osaka, and experience making casting molds.

*Please participate in the Preliminary Study Session prior to this event. This event is intended to be a 2-day seminar.

International Symposium - "Pursuing the Mysteries of Production Methods of Gilded Bronze Buddha Statues"

Saturday, December 12, 2015 - 10:00 ~ 17:10

Capacity: 200 (Prior registration is required)

Venue: Sigma Hall, International Building, School of Engineering Science, Toyonaka Campus, Osaka University

While talking about current research regarding production methods of gilded bronze Buddha statues in China, Korean, and Japan, we'll try to reexamine prior research from different perspectives through taking a close look at gilded bronze Buddha statues as bronze ware. In addition, we'll also confirm what we "do know" and what we "don't know" through a discussion session and explore new potential for future research.

Hosted by:

The Museum of Osaka University

Co-hosted by:

Graduate School of Letters, Osaka University

Special cooperation by:

Tokyo University of the Arts

With cooperation by:

Nara National Museum; Kakutani Metal-Casting Workshop; Olympus Corporation; ACCORD; Kaitokudo for the 21st Century, Osaka University

Co-sponsored by: The University Council, Kansai University Collaboration Steering Committee, Kita-Osaka Museum Network


Machikaneyama Shugakukan, The Museum of Osaka University


The Museum of Osaka University

Date: 2015-10-24 (Sat) - 2015-12-22 (Tue)

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