Fabricating the Tenjukoku Shūchō Mandara and Prince Shōtoku’s Afterlives


Author: Chari Pradel
In this comprehensive study of the Tenjukoku Shūchō Mandara, Chari Pradel provides a new interpretation of this assemblage of embroidered textile fragments associated with Prince Shōtoku (574–622). By analyzing the scant visual evidence in the context of East Asian visual art of the period, the author recreates the subject represented on the seventh century artifact and demonstrates that it was not Buddhist (as previously believed), but associated with the funerary iconography of China that arrived in Japan with immigrants from the Korean peninsula. In addition, by closely investigating the context for the compilation of each of the documents associated with the artifact, Pradel illuminates the history of the embroidery and its changing significance and perception over the centuries.

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Chari Pradel, Ph.D. (1997), UCLA, is a Professor of Art History in the Department of Art at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and has published articles on Japanese art associated with Prince Shōtoku.
This beautifully illustrated and meticulously researched book brings together a vast body of ancient and modern studies related to a seventh-century Japanese embroidery. […] The beautiful photographs and careful line drawings illustrate each point. An appendix details weave structures and embroidery techniques with magnified images. Extensive notes, a bibliography, an index, and list of Chinese characters supplement the book. Anyone interested in one of the oldest embroideries preserved above ground … will treasure this magnificent, comprehensive study.
Monica Bethe in Newsletter of the Textile Society of America, spring 2017, pp. 20-22.
Pradel’s study is a rare scholarly achievement that, [...] successfully illuminates ancient and medieval religious beliefs, interregional exchange, political shifts, and the reinterpretation of religious ideas in later periods. [...] Pradel’s work will undoubtedly appeal to specialists in a wide variety of fields, including East Asian history and linguistics, textiles, religion, and visual studies. [H]er well-balanced and meticulous analysis ... makes for a fascinating investigation into a difficult-to-study artifact.
Hillary Pedersen in Monumenta Nipponica, 73:2 (2018), pp. 250-255.
The reader should be grateful to Pradel for marshaling the vast quantity of visual and epigraphical materials to offer us a full picture of the study of the TSM [Tenjukoku Shu¯cho¯ Mandara]. [...] Brill is to be commended for supporting such academic publications with generous illustrations, a luxury that most academic publishers are reluctant to indulge in nowadays.
Dorothy C. Wong in The Journal of Japanese Studies, Volume 45, Number 1, Winter 2019, pp. 209-212.