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ebusshi@ŠG•§Žt
KEY WORD :@art history / paintings
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Painters who specialized in Buddhist religious painting. The term was widely used from the late Heian period when the demand for Buddhist paintings grew, especially with the spread of Esoteric Buddhism. Often the term was used to distinguish these professional artists from *eshi ŠGŽt who accepted secular commissions as well, and were usually affiliated with the court or atelier *edokoro ŠGŠ. An early documented use of the term comes in 1066 in a reference to Ebusshi Kyouzen ŠG•§Žt‹³‘T who was given the official title, hokkyou –@‹´. In the late Heian and Kamakura periods many Takuma family artists *Takumaha ‘”h are listed as ebusshi. Most such ebusshi seem in fact to have been laymen who were only nominally given religious status for commission purposes. Ebusshi were awarded the court priestly ranks *soui ‘mˆÊ in recognition of their painting skill and experience. They achieved higher social status and recognition than *busshi •§Žt. However, from around the 15c many painters and other professionals were also being given or adopting such religious ranks or titles as houin –@ˆó or hougen –@Šá. The distinction between an ebusshi and a professional painter was often a fine one. Moreover, men who took religious vows and entered the monastic life, especially in the Zen sects, and also worked as painters are called *gasou ‰æ‘m.
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