|KEY WORD : art history / iconography|
|Commonly known as Hounen Shounin 法然上人 or St. Hounen (1133-1212), founder of the Pure Land, Joudo 浄土 sect in Japan. After early training in Tendai 天台 Buddhism at Enryakuji 延暦寺, at age seventeen Hounen devoted himself to Pure Land teachings, spending the next twenty years reading scriptures. In 1175, Hounen read KANMURYOUJUKYOU SHO 観無量寿経疏 (The Commentary on the Meditation Sutra) by the Chinese Pure Land monk Shandao (Jp; *Zendou 善導, 613-81) and realized the way to salvation was through the "exclusive recitation of the nenbutsu 念仏, (All Praise to *Amida 阿弥陀, Jp; senju nenbutsu 専修念仏). The subsequent popularity of Hounen's teaching incurred the wrath of the established sects, who prevailed upon the government to have Hounen exiled to Shikoku 四国 in 1207. In 1211 he was pardoned and returned to the capital, but died two months later. As the leader of a major sect, Hounen was often depicted in solo portraits, and in group portraits as one of the Five Patriarchs of the Pure Land sect *Joudo Goso 浄土五祖. Typically Hounen is shown seated, wearing black robes, and holding a Buddhist rosary. Although the pose is generic, his flattened crown (known as Hounen's head) and broad, full face are distinctive. The best-known portrait, the so-called Ashihiki-no-miei 足曳御影 (Nison-in 二尊院, Kyoto) from the first-half of the 13c, shows Hounen seated in meditation. According to legend, the portrait originally showed Hounen with his legs 'ashi 足' dangling, as if pulled out of place 'hiki 引', but Hounen prayed and the legs in the painting were returned to the sitting posture. Soon after Hounen's death, many narrative handscrolls illustrating the life of the patriarch and the history and benefits of the Joudo sect were produced as a means of proselytizing. The oldest illustrated scroll is the Hounen Shounin Denpou-e 法然上人伝法絵 (1237). The original version is lost, but survives in several Muromachi period copies. Another early work is the Hounen Shounin den-e 法然上人伝絵 of the late 13c, represented by two fragmentary scrolls in Zoujouji 増上寺, Tokyo. Hounen and his disciple *Shinran 親鸞 are shown together in the Shuui Kotokuden 拾遺古徳伝 (Supplemented Biographies of the High Priests), best illustrated in the Joufukuji 常福寺, Ibaraki prefecture (version of 1323). The most complete illustrated biography is the 48 scrolls of the Hounen Shounin eden 法然上人絵伝, extant in versions at Chion-in 知恩院 and Taimadera 当麻寺. The scrolls were commissioned by the retired Emperor Gofushimi 後伏見 and executed between 1307 and 1317 by official artists of the court atelier *edokoro 絵所. Pictorial biographies of Hounen (usually without text) were painted on large hanging scrolls from the 14c in order to propagate his teachings before large groups of people. Well-known examples include a set of three scrolls in Myougenji 妙源寺 (mid-14c) in Aich prefecture.|
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