gasou 画僧
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Monks who produced paintings of Buddhist subjects to accumulate religious or spiritual merit. Gasou refers to those monks in temples or monasteries who underwent religious training and education, as well as those who had talent and experience in painting. The term was used to distinguish religious painters from *ebusshi 絵仏師, who were professional painters and decorators of religious works. Gasou are especially noteworthy in the Esoteric Buddhist mikkyou 密教 sects, particularly the Shingon 真言 sect, which had a long tradition of iconographic drawings *zuzou 図像 and thus the demand for Shingon sect icon paintings as ritual and meditation tools was constant. Famous gasou painters included Kakuyuu 覚猷, or Toba Soujou 鳥羽僧正 (1053-1140), Shinkaku 心覚 (1117-80), Genshou 玄証 (1146-1206), and Shinkai 信海 (fl.1278-87). After the introduction of Zen teachings in the 13c, Japan adopted the Chinese Song and Yuan custom of calling Zen monk painters or painters affiliated with Zen institutions gasou Minchou 明兆 (1352-1431), Josetsu 如拙 (? late 14c early 15c), Shuubun 周文 (fl. 1414-63), and Sesshuu Touyou 雪舟等楊 (1420-1506) are categorized in this group.


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