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Buddhist Sculpture in and after the Period of Unkei and Kaikei

Buddhist Sculpture in and after the Period of Unkei and Kaikei
Honkan Room 14   August 27, 2013 (Tue) - November 17, 2013 (Sun)

  
Seated Dainichi Nyorai (Mahavairocana), Heian - Kamakura period, 12th century (Important Cultural Property, Lent by Shinnyo-en, Tokyo)

This exhibition includes three statues of a Buddha, Dainichi Nyorai (Mahavairocana). The two smaller ones are very similar in style and structure, as well as in the types of dedicatory objects contained within the statues and the manner of their installation. Both statues are thought to be by the Buddhist sculptor, Unkei, at the start of the Kamakura period (1192 - 1333). The third Dainichi Nyorai statue, the life-sized one, is by the sculptor Kaikei. It is interesting to compare it with the other two, paying attention to the shape of the hair on the head, the modeling of the body, and the draperies in the clothing around the legs.

There are also two statues of another Buddha, Amida Nyorai (Amitabha): the seated one is in Unkei's style; the standing one is in Kaikei's style. The Unkei style is characterized by solidness and imposing volume, whereas the Kaikei style features a clean-cut, picturesque beauty. However, the styles share features in terms of realism. The sculptors lived in the same era, but there was a wide gap between their lives as artists. Unkei received commissions from powerful warriors in the Kamakura shogunate government, while Kaikei produced many statues in connection to his faith, Pure Land Buddhism. Obviously, the personalities and beliefs of these sculptors differed, and this perhaps shows itself in their respective styles.

The next two generations of Buddhist sculptors after Unkei and Kaikei developed new forms of Buddhist statue; while following the styles of their predecessors, they also strived to display their individuality. In comparison to works by Unkei and Kaikei, their statues are perhaps not as aesthetically appealing, but through novel developments in coloration and decorations they contributed to the field of decorative arts.

Major works in this exhibition
* Works listed below are in the TNM Collection unless otherwise indicated.
Seated Dainichi Nyorai (Mahavairocana), Heian - Kamakura period, 12th century (Important Cultural Property, Lent by Shinnyo-en, Tokyo)
Seated Dainichi Nyorai (Mahavairocana), Heian - Kamakura period, 12th century (Important Cultural Property, Lent by Kotokuji, Tochigi)
Gyodo Mask: Bosatsu (Bodhisattva), By Kaikei, Kamakura period, dated 1201 (Important Cultural Property, Lent by Jodoji, Hyogo)