Weedon Asian Arts Lecture at U.Va. Feb. 27 to Focus on Childbirth Depictions

February 19, 2014

The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia will host Yui Suzuki for an Ellen Bayard Weedon Lecture in the Arts of Asia on Feb. 27. Her lecture, “Twanging Bows and Throwing Rice: Warding Off Evil in Medieval Japanese Birth Scenes,” will be held at 6 p.m. in Campbell Hall, room 153.

Although a transformational life experience, childbirth has not received much focused attention in art history. In medieval Japan, birthing scenes were often inserted into medieval picture scrolls (called “emaki”) to evoke the larger Buddhist notion of suffering. Despite the long-established practice of medicine in Japan, childbirth pictures reveal that the upper echelons of society relied heavily on multifarious networks of ritual specialists and their magico-religious rites. In her talk, Suzuki will examine images of the diverse performances by religious professionals and the reasons why such elaborate measures were taken to ensure the safety of mother and child.

Suzuki is associate professor of art history at the University of Maryland, where she has taught since 2006. She is a specialist in Japanese Buddhist art and her research explores issues of Japanese religiosity and its manifestations in visual/material culture. She is the author of “Medicine Master Buddha: The Iconic Worship of Yakushi in Heian Japan” (Leiden: Brill, 2012), and her essays have appeared in Archives of Asian Art, RES and other scholarly publications. Suzuki’s most recent research examines images of ritual objects and practices of spirit possession in Japanese medieval Buddhism.

The Weedon Lectures are made possible by support from the Ellen Bayard Weedon Foundation.

The lecture is free and open to the public. For information, call 434-243-2050 or email museumoutreach@virginia.edu.

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