Ōbaku Ingen/Lingyin Lecture Series 2023: Dr. Harald Conrad

March 15, 2023

Dear Friends of the Center for Buddhist Studies,


Please join us on Monday, March 27 at 4 pm (Arizona Time) in the Copper Room at the Student Union for the next lecture of the Ōbaku Ingen/Lingyin Lecture Series! This is a hybrid in-person/online event.

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The year 2022 marked the 350th death anniversary of Zen Master Yinyuan Longqi (隱元隆琦1592-1673, Ingen Ryūki in Japanese). Special ceremonies and events are being held in both Japan and China to honor this great Zen master. In North America, the Center for Buddhist Studies, College of Humanities at the University of Arizona is organizing a series of commemorative events which will run for one year beginning May 3, 2022. These events will present and explore the extraordinary life of Zen Master Yinyuan and the great achievements of the Huangbo 黃檗Chan tradition (known as the Ōbaku school of Zen Buddhism in Japan)  that Yinyuan pioneered in China and Japan. These events highlight the intersection between religion, art, and culture in China and Japan and will be presented in both online and offline formats. Activities will include an online exhibition of works of art related to the Ōbaku tradition, academic lectures, musical performances, and tea-related events. (Visit our Ōbaku Ingen website at: ingen.arizona.edu).


Time and Location:

Time: March 27, 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm (Arizona Time)

Location: Student Union, Copper Room


Talk title: Reflections on the Understanding, Appreciation and Authentication of Ōbaku Zen Calligraphy


Speaker: Dr. Harald Conrad, University of Düsseldorf


Abstract: As a researcher and collector of Japanese calligraphy, I will address in this talk, which is primarily aimed at a Western audience, first issues around the appreciation of Japanese calligraphy in general and then of Ōbaku Zen calligraphy in particular. In the arts of China and Japan, calligraphy has historically ranked highest among the arts. Due to the pictographic and expressive qualities of the Chinese script, its hand-written form captures not only literary meaning, but is believed to be a deep reflection of the writer’s mind. While critically examining this notion, I plan to address a number of questions: Is it possible for a Western audience to ‘understand’ Japanese calligraphy? What impact did Ōbaku Zen calligraphy have on the Japanese calligraphic tradition? Why is Ōbaku Zen calligraphy nowadays comparatively popular among Western collectors, but less so in Japan? What are pertinent questions of authenticity around Ōbaku Zen calligraphy?


Speaker Bio: Harald Conrad holds a Chair of Modern Japanese Studies at the University of Düsseldorf, Germany. Prior appointments were at the School of Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield (England), the Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (Japan), and the German Institute for Japanese Studies (Japan). Harald’s research focuses primarily on Japanese human resource management, social policy, and the structure and practices of traditional markets. As an avid collector of Japanese calligraphy, he has also worked on the Japanese art market (“Managing (Un)certainty in the Japanese Antique Art Trade - How Economic and Social Factors Shape a Market,” Japan Forum, 28:2) and published a seal handbook on the Confucian scholar Kameda Bōsai (1752-1826) (Kameda Bōsai Inpushū). In the 2000s, he was the only foreign member of an antique studies group around the late Japanese collector Atsumi Kuniyasu and late art dealer Kobayashi Katsuhiro in Tokyo. Harald has contributed a number of Ōbaku pieces from his collection to the ongoing online exhibition about Ingen Ryūki at the University of Arizona’s Center for Buddhist Studies.


These lecture series are made possible thanks to the generous support from Wanfu Temple in Fuqing, Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou, and Matcha.com.


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We look forward to seeing you there!