Koubou Daishi 弘法大師
KEY WORD : art history / iconography
Lit. Great Master Koubou. The posthumous name of *Kuukai 空海 (774-835), the founder of esoteric Shingon 真言 Buddhism in Japan. There are numerous portraits of Kuukai in both sculpture and painting. Kuukai is portrayed alone or as one of the Eight Patriarchs of Shingon sect *Shingon Hasso 真言八祖. The earliest extant image is from the set of the Eight Patriarchs painted on interior wood panels of the pagoda at Daigoji 醍醐寺, Kyoto, in 951. The painting enshrined at Kongouji 金剛寺, Osaka, is representative of early portraits and is said to be a copy of the secret Buddhist image *hibutsu 秘仏 at the founder's image hall, Mieidou 御影堂 on Mt Kouya 高野, where Kuukai's spirit resides. The Kongouji portrait shows the priest wearing a brown monk's robe, sitting on a *tatami 畳 dais, with his head turned slightly to his right. He holds a five-pronged club, vajra *gokosho 五鈷杵, and his left hand, resting on his knee, fingers a rosary. Notable among Kamakura period examples are the paintings at Jingoji 神護寺, Kyoto, and Ryuusen-in 竜泉院, Mt Kouya. The oldest extant portrait sculpture in Kyouougokokuji 教王護国寺 (Touji 東寺), Kyoto, dates from 1233. Both painted and sculptured portraits of Koubou Daishi were made in great numbers in later periods. He is also portrayed as a child in images known as *Chigo Daishi 稚児大師.


(C)2001 Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System. No reproduction or republication without written permission.