Enlightenment and Implicitness: Devine and Gender Images
I question what shapes our cultural gender identities in the modern society. How do historical facts and belief systems shaped my identity as a woman of color in contemporary United States? In order to discover this complicated context, first I needed to seek answers from Japanese history and social allusion. How were my gender images, beliefs, and ideology resulted to desire lifestyle in America instead of my motherland, Japan?
… In the beginning, there were disturbance and fear
I faced disturbance and fear towards my gender identity through body mapping at the beginning of the quarter. I have taken a process to learn about Japanese religion and history provided clear realization that society has sets of expectation to gender roles and characters. Even if we are taught to believe our values of human beings are equal, religion shows attitude that equality does not exist in their doctrine. Women only initiate supportive role in their religious settings, which I believe formed concepts of objectifying women. According to Woman of the Sacred Grove, the issue of gender did not exist in Okinawan culture. I found the origin of gender image imbedded deeply by the matriarchal society from excavated clay figures and its significance in Pre-historical era. In early history of Japan, gender roles in society were greatly influenced by institution of religious activities. Priestess Pimiko’s job was to keep harmonious society during warfare and similar spiritual affinity was seen in Ryukyuan culture. This matriarchal credence shifted substantially with imported religions, Buddhism and Confucianism, which ultimately outlined indigenous Shinto into Courtly Shinto with Shinbutsu shūgō (神仏習合) concept. The syncretism of Kami and Buddha allowed merging divine images from one religion to another fluidly. Buddhist sculptures were influenced by Hellenistic mythological art in Gandhara and Indian style with Hindi influence later in history. Buddhist statues often have suggestive gender appearance. But it is mere representation of a quality of celestial beings and not to signify physical gender. Through Heian to Edo period, religion played great influence for sculpted statuaries. Visual imageries were necessary for gradual adaptation of Buddhism among common people.
Gender images through modern sculptures
In modern society, religious sculptures did not receive same gratification from the artistic society. Most of sculptural subjects shifted to two categories: one is to create images of a person who achieves a remarkable achievement in his lifetime, and nude models of Japanese female that encapsulates artistic expression. Gradually, humanly figures are freely expressing artist’s voices through their creative minds. It isn’t simply exists as an object of worships, it is sculpted to challenge our...