|KEY WORD : art history / sculptures|
|Also written 摩崖仏. Ch: moyafo. Also known as magai sekibutsu 磨崖石仏 or 摩崖石仏. A Buddhist image carved into the surface of natural rock such as a cliff face, a large rock, or a stone cave. The rock-face was first polished, and then the image was created with engraved lines *senkoku 線刻 in low relief *ukibori 浮彫 or in high relief takanikubori 高肉彫. Clay was used to model details on the relief carving. Occasionally colors and gold leaf were applied. The surrounding rock was often hollowed out to form an alcove for the figure, so a deeply carved magaibutsu was sometimes known as *butsugan 仏龕, meaning Buddha alcove and a cave temple large enough for people to enter was often referred to as sekkutsu jiin 石窟寺院 or sekkutsuji 石窟寺. Rock carving flourished in the Han, and Northern and Southern dynasties in China as well as in India, Afghanistan, and Korea. In Japan magaibutsu never formed the mainstream of Buddhist sculpture, but there are many surviving examples dating from the 7c to 14c. It has been pointed out that popular belief in the living spirit of rocks in Japan was combined with Buddhism and was expressed in magaibutsu. Examples can be found across the country, but Kyuushuu 九州 has the greatest concentration of rock carvings, including the famous stone Buddhas in Usuki 臼杵, Ooita prefecture (11-12c). The images were carved on soft rock such as tuff, a rock formed by the consolidation of volcanic ash and tufa, a porous calcium carbonate rock found around mineral springs. The late Heian period was regarded as the peak of the magaibutsu, in Japan and Kamakura works were smaller in size, carved on hard stone such as granite, and often unpainted, leaving the natural stone surface. After the 14c, free-standing stone Buddhas *sekibutsu 石仏 became more popular, and fewer magaibutsu were made.|
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