Ikkyuu 一休
KEY WORD : art history / iconography
An abbreviation of Ikkyuu Zenji 一休禅師, the Zen 禅 priest Ikkyuu (1394-1481) of the *Rinzai 臨済 lineage. A poet, essayist, legendary eccentric, critic of the Zen establishment, as well as both subject of and impetus for artistic creation. His posthumous name was Soujun 宗純, and he also used the sobriquet Kyouunshi 狂雲子. Ikkyuu was the preeminent Japanese Zen personality, but also a pragmatic rebuilder of Daitokuji 大徳寺 in Kyoto after the Ounin 応仁 war (1466-67) and a significant contributor to medieval aesthetics. Said to have been a son of Emperor Gokomatsu 後小松 (1377-1433), because of his mother's ambiguous position at court, at the age five Ikkyuu became an accolyte at Ankokuji 安国寺 where he spent the next ten years immersed in Chinese learning. In 1410, however, he began the strict practice of meditation with the priest Kennou Soui 謙翁宗為 (d. 1405), and then went on to study with Kesou Soudon 華叟宗曇 (1352-1428) at a rustic temple in Katada 堅田 near Lake Biwa 琵琶. It was here that Ikkyuu upon hearing a crow's caw, had his enlightenment experience in 1420.
In the 1420s Ikkyuu settled in Sakai 堺 where he practiced his 'mad Zen' in brothels and wine shops. His antics, parading through the streets waving a sword or carrying a human skull, and his numerous affairs with prostitutes celebrated in his poems, were presented as methods of understanding true Zen. Ikkyuu was a constant critic of the "wooden (i.e. stylized) Zen" practiced in large monasteries such as Daitokuji, where he briefly served as abbot in 1474. Even in his old age spent at Shuuon'an 酬恩庵, a small retreat south of Kyoto, Ikkyuu's attachment to the blind singer Mori 森 again demonstrated his fusion of Zen and worldly life.
Throughout his life, and especially during his years at Shuuon'an, Ikkyuu maintained close relations with leaders in various arts, hosting prominent literary figures such as the *nou 能 playwrite and theorist Konparu Zenchiku 金春禅竹 (1405-70), the renga 連歌 master Iio Sougi 飯尾宗祇 (1421-1502) and, most frequently, Sougi's disciple the poet Saiokuken Souchou 紫屋軒宗長 (1448-1532). Ikkyuu's interest in expressing Zen through the arts has led to legends linking him with the founding of the tea ceremony *chanoyu 茶の湯 and writing the nou plays EGUCHI 江口 (see *Eguchi no kimi 江口の君) and *YAMAUBA 山姥. More than 1,000 of Ikkyuu's poems, many of them openly erotic, are collected in the KYOUUNSHUU 狂雲集 (Crazy-Cloud Anthology ; translated Sonja Arntzen). Ikkyuu is also known for his essays, the best-known of which is GAIKOTSU 骸骨 (Skeletons). He also gathered several painter-priests in his circle, including Soga Jasoku 曽我蛇足 (d.1483; see *Sogaha 曽我派), Bokkei 墨渓 (d.1473) who was called Suiboku 酔墨 (drunken ink) by Ikkyuu and used it as a sobriquet, and Bokusai 墨斎 (d.1492) who was Ikkyuu's chief disciple at Shuuon'an and later abbot both there and at Shinju'an 真珠庵, Ikkyuu's subtemple at Daitokuji.
Ikkyuu is noted for his calligraphy which is as powerful, rough, and eccentric as his personality. There are also a number of rough ink monochrome paintings attributed to him, although they differ greatly from the style of Jasoku, Ikkyuu's reputed teacher. Ikkyuu was the subject of numerous paintings ranging from realistic portraits to imaginary depictions of his various exploits. A number of Ikkyuu's wooden effigies and painted portraits were kept at Shuuon'an and Shinju'an. Most remarkable among these are the harshly naturalistic portrait painted by Bokusai (Tokyo National Museum) and a portrait showing Ikkyuu at age 78 with Mori, who sits and holds a small drum. The mid Edo period publication of the *kana zoushi 仮名草子, IKKYUU BANASHI 一休ばなし (Tales of Ikkyuu) and ZOKU IKKYUU BANASHI 続一休ばなし (Continued Tales of Ikkyuu) disseminated both fact and fiction about Ikkyuu generating illustrations such as those of his supposed meeting with the Sakai courtesan *Jigoku dayuu 地獄太夫. More generalized images, such as Hanabusa Itchou's 英 一蝶 (1652-1724) painting of Ikkyuu drunk outside a wineshop, probably also derive from this renewed interest in Ikkyuu.

Ikkyuu Oshou-zou 一休和尚像 at Tokyo National Museum 

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