|Japan's first permanent capital, Nara, was self-consciously and intentionally modeled after the great Tang metropolis, Chang-an. Although the capital was grandiose in its conception, it was never completed. Court rituals and ceremonials reflected Tang influences. Gagaku, a distinctive, form of Japanese music and dance based upon Chinese music, developed in Nara, and enjoyed popularity, especially at court, into modern times. Gagaku--"elegant music"--constitutes "the oldest fully authenticated musical and dance traditions in the world" (Fairbank 339). A mask such as this one might have been used in Gagaku performances.|
Little now remains of the original Todaiji built to house
the gigantic Giant Buddha (Daibutsu in the background image)
|The beautiful Hall of Dreams has been rebuilt|
|And a reconstructed and rededicated Hall of the Great Buddha of Todaiji|
|Buddhism dominated Nara Japan and spread from the elites into the countryside. Emperor Shomu decreed that every province should build both a pagoda and a temple. One of the oldest extant buddhas in the world, from the Nara period.|
Another Nara temple
For more information on Asuka and Nara arts, visit
Batterberry, Michael. Chinese and Oriental Art. New York, et. al.: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1968.
Bayrd, Edwin. Kyoto. New York: Newsweek, 1974.
Smith, Bradley. Japan: A History in Art. New York: Doubleday and Co., 1964.
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