Kamakura jidai 鎌倉時代
KEY WORD : art history / general terms
The Kamakura period (1185-1332) is named for the city in modern Kanagawa prefecture where Minamoto no Yoritomo 源頼朝 (1147-99) set up his military government in 1185. Nearly all scholars accept this date as the beginning of the period. Opinions on its end include 1332 (the banishment of the Emperor Godaigo 後醍醐 [1288-1339] and the placement of Emperor Kougon 光厳 [1313-64] on the throne) and 1333 (the fall of the Houjou 北条 regime and the return of the capital to Kyoto). A few art historians include the Southern and Northern Court period *Nanbokuchou jidai 南北朝時代 under Kamakura and thus place its end at the reunification of the Imperial line in 1392. The period saw renewed Chinese influence and the growth of popular Buddhism , especially the Joudo 浄土 and *Nichiren 日蓮 sects. The Genpei War Genpei kassen 源平合戦 of 1180 to 1185 marked a change from the tranquillity of the Heian period to a country torn apart by civil wars that raged between the Minamoto 源 and Taira 平 clans over political control of the country. Immediately after the conflict, the top priority was the revitalization of religious foundations. The aristocracy, still centered in Kyoto, were stripped of real power, but retained their role as cultural leaders. They therefore devoted much of their time to leisure and the arts flourished. One of the most important rebuilding projects was Toudaiji 東大寺 in Nara; its Great Buddha Hall Daibutsuden 大仏殿 had been burned by the Taira forces in 1180. The Nara based Kei school *Keiha 慶派 of sculptors assisted in this by creating many images for the various reconstruction projects. Kaikei 快慶 (active 1183 - 1223), and Unkei 運慶 (d. 1223), two of the school's most talented carvers, collaborated to produce the dynamic musculature of the *Kongou rikishi 金剛力士 that stand in the alcoves at each side of Toudaiji's Great South Gate *Nandaimon 南大門. The Kei School style is defined by exaggerated expression, realism, and a knowledge of classical sculptural styles of the Nara period, reworked into a new style. The 13c was a creative period for the production of secular handscrolls *emaki 絵巻. The Heiji monogatari emaki 平治物語絵巻 (handscroll of The Tale of The Heiji; dated second half of the 13c) illustrates the history of events in 1160 which led to the defeat of the Minamoto clan by the Taira. One of the most famous scenes is the burning of the Sanjou 三条 Palace of the retired emperor Goshirakawa 後白河. Saigyou monogatari emaki 西行物語絵巻 (The illustrated Biography of the Priest-Poet Saigyou :see *saigyou monogatari-e 西行物語絵; late 13c) captures the essence of Japanese landscape and this Priest-Poet's interaction with nature. Pure Land Buddhism, became centered on the belief that enlightenment could be achieved through faith in *Amida 阿弥陀 and the practise of the nenbutsu 念仏, the repetition of the phrase 'Namu Amida Butsu' 南無阿弥陀仏. This period saw the development of several offshoots of the faith: *Hounen 法然 developed the Pure Land sect ; *Shinran 親鸞 founded the True Pure Land sect and *Ippen 一遍 organised the Ji 時 sect. Illustrated handscrolls were created as biographies of these religious teachers and as visual supports for the veracity of the sects, such as Hounen Shounin eden 法然上人絵伝 (early 14c); Zenshin Shounin-e 善信上人絵 (late 13c) and Ippen hijiri-e 一遍聖絵 (late 13c). The primary icon of Hounen's pure land Buddhism is the *Taima mandara 当麻曼荼羅, a visualization of the Western Paradise. One of the best documented versions of the Taima mandara was preserved at Zenrinji 禅林寺 in Kyoto and is now in the Nara National Museum. In addition, new types of *raigou-zu 来迎図 (Amida and *bosatsu 菩薩 descending to earth to welcome the souls of the deceased) developed in the late 12c and early 13c. One type called hayaraigou 早来迎 (swift raigou) depicts Amida and company descending on fast moving clouds, indicating the immediacy of their descent. The most famous example is a painting on silk at Chion-in 知恩院, Kyoto (early 13c). If one were not able to achieve salvation in the Western Paradise, one might be reborn in one of the six realms of rebirth. Grotesque paintings depicting the six realms emerged after the Genpei War. Three separate groups of handscrolls depicting YAMAI NO SOUSHI 病草子 (Human Illness),GAKI ZOUSHI 餓鬼草子 (The world of the hungry ghosts) GAKI ZOUSHI 餓鬼草子 and JIGOKU ZOUSHI 地獄草子 (Realms of Hell) can be dated to the end of the 12c. At the end of the 12c, Zen 禅 (Ch: Chan) Buddhism was introduced to Japan and became one of the most important religious and cultural events in Japanese history. The aesthetic of *wabi わび defined as pleasure taken in austerity and solitude, beauty perceived in simplicity and the appreciation of time-worn objects, evolved in association with the intellectual climate of Zen. Lay priest Yoshida Kenkou's 吉田兼好 (1283 - 1350) TSUREZUREGUSA 徒然草 (Essays in Idleness, c. 1330) illustrates the development of such aesthetic values during this period.


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