Performing Memory: Artistic Production and Religious Practice at the Kofukuji Nan’endo

Situated in a bustling area of Nara City, the Nan’endo (Southern Round Hall) is an eight-sided structure at Kofukuji temple. The history of the Nan’endo began in the ninth century and has been linked to the prominent Northern Fujiwara clan. This talk explores the interplay between memory and materiality, examining the process in which memory of the Northern Fujiwara clan became identified with the Nan’endo and was transformed and reshaped along with the history of the hall from the ninth to the eleventh century. It analyzes how visual production and memorial rituals at the site expressed religious piety, marked kinship relationship and created memories of ancestors as well as narratives of family history. Attention is also given to setsuwatales of the Nan’endo and replications of the building, which indicate the transformation of the site into a miraculous space. While derived from Buddhist devotion, such a transformation manifests an ever-changing familial “memoryscape” that was framed in and embodied by the hall and its images.

Date: Monday 20 April 2020, 6.45pm
Venue: The Swedenborg Society, 20-21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH

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