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Article

Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....

Article

Kirk Ambrose

(b Moscow, May 7, 1903; d Paris, Jan 25, 1988).

Lithuanian art historian, scholar of folklore and Egyptology, and diplomat of Russian birth. Son of the celebrated Lithuanian Symbolist poet of the same name, Jurgis Baltrušaitis II studied under Henri(-Joseph) Focillon at the Sorbonne and earned the PhD in 1931. The concerns of his mentor are evident in La stylistique ornementale dans la sculpture romane (1931), which reprises and extends arguments for the ‘law of the frame’ in Romanesque sculpture. Accordingly, the shapes of architectural members, such as capitals and tympana, determined the articulation of sculptural forms. This theory could account for the genesis of a wide array of monumental carvings, from foliate capitals to narrative reliefs, but ultimately it had a rather limited impact on the field of Romanesque sculptural studies. In a scathing critique, Schapiro argued that Baltrušaitis’s book—and by implication Focillon’s methods—robbed Romanesque sculptors of agency and neglected the religious and expressive meanings of this art form....

Article

Norihisa Mizuta

[Xin yue; Shōun]

(b Puyang, nr Hangzhou, Zhejiang Prov., 1639; d Mito, Ibaragi Prefect., 1695).

Chinese Zen monk, seal-carver, calligrapher, poet and Musician, active in Japan. He left his family at the age of seven and entered the Buddhist order, first training in Jiangxi Province and eventually in Hangzhou. In 1677 he emigrated to Japan, at the invitation of the monk Chin’i Dōryō of Kōfukuji, an Obaku-sect Zen temple in Nagasaki. He took up missionary work but found himself at odds with Ōbaku monks and for a short time was held in temple confinement. In 1681 the daimyo of Mito, Tokugawa Mitsukuni (1628–1700), hearing of this situation, invited Shin’etsu to his fiefdom, where in 1692 he became founding abbot of Mitsukuni’s temple, Jushōzan Gionji (formerly Tentokuji) in Mito, later the place of his burial. Shin’etsu’s school of Buddhism is known as the Jushō or Shin’etsu school of Sōtō Zen.

Shin’etsu is best known as an artist and true literatus. Together with Dokuryū Shōeki...

Article

Elizabeth Horton Sharf

[Duli Xingyi; Dai Mangong; Tianwai yi xianren]

(b Hangzhou Prefect., Zhejiang Prov., 1596; d Nagasaki, 1672).

Chinese Ōbaku Zen monk, calligrapher, poet, seal-carver and medical expert, active in Japan. Dokuryū was one of many learned men from south-east China to emigrate to Japan during the political turmoil following the collapse of the Ming dynasty in 1644. He arrived in Nagasaki in 1653 accomplished in several disciplines and quickly became a major force in the development of these arts and skills in Japan. Together with Tōkō Shin’etsu, Dokuryū is revered for having introduced techniques and practices of late Ming literati seal-carving to Japan. On his arrival there, Dokuryū became an itinerant scholar and medical specialist, establishing ties with émigré Chinese abbots and Japanese political figures. When the distinguished Chinese prelate Yinyuan Longqi (known in Japan as Ingen Ryūki) arrived in 1654, Dokuryū was ordained as his disciple and received the Buddhist names Dokuryū and Shōeki.

He was Ingen’s scribe from 1655 until 1658, when he took up residence at the Rinzai Zen monastery Heirinji (Saitama Prefect.) under the patronage of the shogunal minister ...