Friday, December 10, 2010
The influence the two writers have exerted on the religious life of their times and in subsequent centuries is great in both cases. Illustrated copies of the Inferno had an enormous influence which extended to public art, and many Last Judgements commissioned for cathedrals reflected Dante’s invention. Similarly Genshin’s ‘Ojoyoshu’, in the many centuries since its first appearance in the latter part of the tenth century, has been published in countless editions, many graphically illustrated. The macabre and imaginative work struck a chord with the people, whose minds had been turned toward the Buddhist ideas of retribution and reincarnation by the wars and chaos of the times. Many Jigoku Zoshi (“hell scrolls”) were produced, series of scrolls picturing the different types of hell. Though somewhat revolting the scrolls are also tragically impressive in their Dantesque grandeur. In addition to its influence on art, Genshin’s ‘Ojoyoshu’ had a profound influence on Japanese Buddhism, and made Amidaism the supreme way of salvation in
. The dominance of Amida Buddhism, which makes central the Buddha Amitabha and salvation in his Western Paradise, or the Japan , is a result of the popularity of Genshin’s work.