“Silk, Hair, and Gold: Materializing Women in Embroideries of Amida’s Welcoming Descent”

Carolyn Wargula: “Silk, Hair, and Gold: Materializing Women in Embroideries of Amida’s Welcoming Descent”

This paper considers visual and written evidence to argue that embroideries of Amida’s Welcoming Descent from Kamakura Japan offered viewers a new paradigm of bodily engagement that differed from paintings of the same genre. Devotees approached these corporeal embroideries not simply as sensuous surfaces for multisensorial contemplation but as sites of embodiment, where one’s body could be submerged with the Buddha, collapsing space and time, to become one with it—an appealing concept, particularly for women, who struggled with notions of bodily impurity.