|KEY WORD : art history / sculptures|
|Wooden sculpture. While wooden sculptures are relatively rare in India and China, wood has traditionally been the chief material used for sculpture in Japan. The dominance of wood is due to the high quality of timber available in Japan. The most commonly used wood is Japanese cypress hinoki 桧, but in northern and eastern Japan, Japanese nutmeg kaya 榧 and Judas tree katsura 桂 are also common. One of the disadvantages of wood as opposed to stone or metal is its vulnerability to humidity and fire. However, it has the advantage of being much easier to work with. A variety of tools, including the chisel *nomi 鑿, knife *kogatana 小刀 and gimlet *kiri 錐, are used to sculpt the wood. Wooden sculptures in Japan are primarily Buddhist images . Buddhist statues in wood are believed to have been made in Japan since the late 6c. Sculptors of these Buddhist images were sometimes known as *kibusshi 木仏師 (wooden Buddha sculptor). The oldest extant Buddhist wooden sculpture is the *Guze Kannon 救世観音 at Houryuuji 法隆寺 (Nara), which dates from the first half of the 7c. Made of camphor kusu 樟, this statue, from its head, torso, and hands, down to the section below the lotus leaf pedestal, is carved from one piece of wood *ichiboku-zukuri 一木造. On the surface, gold leaf is applied over a white ground, and details such as the coronet are done in open-worked, gilt bronze. From the 6c to 7c, the number of wooden statues made was only exceeded by gilt bronze *kondou 金銅 sculptures. Most wooden sculptures were made of camphor, carved from a single block, and either gilded or painted. From the late 7c through the late 8c, wooden sculptures were made along with dry lacquer *kanshitsuzou 乾漆像 and clay figures *sozou 塑像. Advances in other media such as lacquer tended to overshadow achievements in wood during this period. A good example from Toushoudaiji 唐招提寺 is the standing figure of Den Yakushi Nyorai 伝薬師如来 (8c; wood 165cm). Other examples are the seated Dainichi Nyorai 大日如来 (early Heian period, wood 330cm) and the standing *Taishakuten 帝釈天 (Nara period, wood 206cm), both in Toushoudaiji *Kondou 金堂. From the late 8c, sculptural style shows renewed Chinese influence. Soft, coniferous wood with a consistent grain, such as cypress and nutmeg were used to produce single-block works. In addition to the ordinary wooden sculptures, wood-core dry lacquer statues *mokushin kanshitsu 木心乾漆 were made in this period. The rough shape of the statue was carved in wood, and then a lacquer mixed with sawdust or other fibrous material *kokuso-urushi 木屎漆 was molded over. These new developments helped bring about the golden age in wooden sculpture during the early Heian period. Late 8c and early 9c sculpture can be divided into two main types. One is where the wood is left exposed or only simple colors are added to emphasize the beautiful natural wood surface and the carving marks themselves. The second type is the wood-core dry lacquer statue described above; a very fine lacquer surface was usually used to mold surface detail. Particularly fine examples of this period include the standing *Yakushi 薬師 at Jingoji 神護寺 (late 8c) and the various other statues including the *Godai Myouou 五大明王 of Touji Koudou 東寺講堂 (839), both in Kyoto. In the 10c a further development of the wood-core dry lacquer technique occurred. Instead of the fiber-lacquer layer, the wood was covered with a layer of cloth and a paste called sabi-urushi 錆漆, consisting of lacquer mixed with ground stone powder, was painstakingly applied to the sculpture as a ground coating. Details were done in gold leaf or painted. An extremely important innovation in wooden sculpture evolved during the 9c, which consisted of the hollowing out of statues, or *uchiguri 内刳. This made the statue lighter and prevented cracking as the wood dried . At first, statues were hollowed out from the back, or split vertically and each half hollowed out, and then rejoined. The technique where one-block statues are split, sometimes into several pieces, hollowed out, and rejoined, is known as *warihagi 割矧. This enabled a much deeper hollowing-out process, and in turn led to *yoseki-zukuri 寄木造 technique, where a statue was made from several distinct pieces of timber which were then joined together. Each section could be hollowed out to make a thin wall. Warihagi-zukuri 割矧造 was used to make life-size or smaller, and yoseki-zukuri for larger pieces. Yoseki-zukuri is an economical technique, because the production process was planned from the start, and many workmen were employed to sculpt the various small pieces that made up the whole. This technique enabled the construction of large scale commissions in the late Heian period including the Amida Nyoraizou 阿弥陀如来像 at Byoudouin *Hououdou 平等院鳳凰堂 (1053), Kyoto. Although Japan's wooden statues were strongly influenced by Chinese examples, these techniques are considered characteristically Japanese. The expression and style of sculptures after the 10c became standardized, perhaps due to the convenience of the production method, and many sculptures share the same expression and posture, and lack individuality. In the 13c during the Kamakura period, a greater sense of body movement came to be expressed with deep, flowing, drapery patterns. A strong interest in realistic expression also appeared in wooden sculpture at this time. The walls of Kamakura sculptures are thicker than Heian sculptures, allowing for deep-cut patterns. The interest in realistic expression is seen in the use of crystal eyes *gyokugan 玉眼, the earliest example Amida sanzonzou 阿弥陀三尊像 (1151) in Chougakuji 長岳寺, Nara. Also portrait sculptures, particularly those of Zen 禅 priests (see *chinsou 頂相), became very common. These Japanese wooden sculptures resemble the western idea of portraiture in their depiction of individual characteristics. Wooden sculpture in Japan flourished until the 14c when it saw a marked decline. In later periods there were some notable sculptors in wood, but these tended to be isolated individuals, whose work lay outside of the mainstream of artistic style and patronage. Enkuu 円空 (1632-95), for example, produced many remarkable expressionistic sculptures in wood which were not widely known in his lifetime but are now highly prized.|
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