Buddhism Statue Craftsman History (Japan) #3

#3 the golden age of Kei group (Kamakura period)

In Heian period (8th ? 11th century), the center of Buddhism culture was Kyoto. Especially, Yen Group. They had produced statues from noble-class’ orders.

On the other hand, one craftsman had gone to Nara.
His name is Raijo. Unfortunately, the record of his actions have never remained, but we can find the record of Kocho who is grandson of Raijo. Kocho had the best pupul, Kokei.
They had put all their energies into produce statue, because many statues and temples have disappeared by Genpei war between Taira clan and Minamoto clan at Nara. Their statues were rich in originality.

At that time, Mappou Shisou (one of eschatology) prevailed in the years that he lived. Noble clung to Buddhism, they built temples.
And the same time, Hounen, Shinran, Dogen, Eisai and Nichiren are appeared, they put forward a new Buddhism (called Kamakura Buddhism). Buddhism changed from noble’s to common people’s.

After Genpei war, Japan had been ruled by Samurai. They liked realistic statues. For that reason, many realistic statues were produced. Kokei, Unkei, Kaikei and Tankei were appeared. It’s Kei Group. Their statues are popular still now.
Almost current craftsmen are following in their footsteps.

The hallmark of Kei group is realistic description (of human body). And using Gyokugan (crystal eyes).

Why they were watched? There are some reasons.
1. They could study structure of statues in detail, because their main work were ‘restoration’ at Nara.
2. They could get great chance to produce statues, because many statues disappeared by war.
3. Yen and In group had been hated from New administrator, Minamoto-no-Yoritomo (the first Shogun), because they joined hands with noble. Especially, Inson of In group produced statue to put a curse on Minamoto clan by Taila clan’s order.

Kei group got back to Shichijo studio at Kyoto. Kyoto became the Buddhism central city again by Kei group.

Buddhism Statue Craftsman History (Japan) #2

#2 Jocho & private studio years

Talking of Buddhism statue of Heian period, we recall “Jocho style”. Jocho (son of Kojo) had built an era. His remarkable service is establishment of Yosegi method (not carving from one timber, join some wooden parts together). And he had turned it into a style of Japanese tastes. Generally, it’s admired that the hallmark of his works are gently, soft and aristocratic statue.

A little come down in time, Chosei who is pupil of Jocho had had his studio at Kyoto Sanjo (called Sanjo Studio), and he had accepted many orders from noble-class. Chosei’s group is called Yen Group (because almost member had the sound of “Yen” to their name).

Further, Kakujo who is son of Jocho is key man. He had had his studio at Kyoto Shichijo (called Shichijo Studio), and he worked. His studio had survived than any other studios.

Raijo, pupil of Kakujo, went to Nara. It’s guessed that his main work was restoration of statues. Because Nara was not already the capital city and the center of Buddhism was Kyoto.

And Injo, son of Kakujo, had had his studio at Kyoto Shichijo-Omiya (called Shichijo-Omiya Studio), and they had produced Jocho style statues. Injo’s group is called In Group (because almost member had the sound of “In” to their name). They also joined hands with noble-class.

Incho who is son of Injo had had his studio at Kyoto Rokujo-Madenokoji (called Rokujo-Madenokoji Studio)

(Left) genealogical table
(Right) representative Jocho’s work, Amida Nyorai (Amitabha)

Buddhism Statue Craftsman History (Japan) #1

#1 From Buddhism introduction to Heian period

In 6th century, Buddhism was introduced to Japan from Baekje (Korea). And the same time, Buddhism statue method was also brought. At that time, craftsm an who was from overseas (especially from China and Korea) took an important role(*1). It was the period that Japanese craftsmen learned the method as assisting them.

In Nara period (8th century), the Governmental Buddhism statue studios were established. So, statues were produced by many Japanese craftsmen in Heian period (8th ? 12th century). But it was not in the habit of signing craftsman’s autograph to statue at that time. And we can’t know how they kept their existences. Because there are no historical sources that recorded the relationship between teacher and student and a parent‐child relationship.

In the mid of Heian period, Kojo appeared. He was son of the lower class Samurai, and he became Buddhism statue craftsman. Generally, Kojo is the father of Buddhism statue craftsman(*2). He established the first private studio (the place is unknown). The studio has produced many great craftsmen such as Jocho.

*1…representative craftsman is Kuratsukuri-no-Tori (a.k.a. Tori Busshi)
*2…there is also opinion that Jocho is the father.

The most important work of Tori. (pics)
(Left) Shaka Nyorai (Gautama Siddhartha) at Asuka-dera temple in Nara. Original is a part of face and some fingers. The face doesn’t look forward because it’s not good restoration. The hallmark of its statue is the eyes called almond-shape.
(Right) Skaka Sanzon-zo at Horyu-ji temple (the oldest wooden buildings).