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Celebrating the Legacy of Yinyuan Longqi (Ingen Ryuki) and the Art of Ōbaku

Celebrating the Legacy of Yinyuan Longqi (Ingen Ryuki) and the Art of Ōbaku

Traces of Huangbo/Ōbaku Temples

Prior to Ingen’s arrival, Chinese residents in Nagasaki in the 1620s had erected three modest temples, each of which served as places of worship and community centers for residents from different regions of China, although they allowed Japanese to worship at them as well. Yet, it was not until the sudden influx of Chinese artisans and monks who accompanied Ingen to Japan in 1654, and the beginning of the construction of the head temple Manpukuji in 1661 near the great urban centers of Kyoto and Osaka, that Ōbaku temple architecture rose to prominence. Manpukuji attracted Japanese from far and wide, including Zen monks of other sects, Confucian scholars, and artists, all of whom were eager to experience or capture its exciting ambiance, and to encounter the venerable Ingen in person. The construction of Manpukuji also greatly spurred innovations to Japanese temple design. By 1745, over 1,000 Ōbaku temples flourishing throughout Japan reflected the legacy of Ōbaku.

The architectural features and design elements of Ōbaku temples are evident in pictorial representations of them and in elements of their buildings that have been removed from their original context. This exhibition room features wooden signboards (gaku) designed to hang above gateways and doorways. Prominent Ōbaku monks brushed calligraphic templates for these boards. Although we cannot know precisely when or why their removal occurred, it is most likely because temples had either changed sectarian affiliations or were closed in the late 19th century, when parishioners declined in numbers and temples faced difficult times. Here, we also include a rare example of a calligraphy scroll created as a template for one of these signboards. The pictorial representation of Ōbaku temples has retained its appeal into modern times, especially in works by artists who feature famous sites in Japan, a subject with a long and enjoyable history in Japanese art.

BATHHOUSE by Yueshan Daozong (Jp. Essan or Etsuzan Dōshū)

BATHHOUSE by Yueshan Daozong (Jp. Essan or Etsuzan Dōshū)

Bathhouse Yueshan Daozong 悦山道宗 (Jp. Essan or Etsuzan Dōshū, 1629-1709) Japan, Edo period (1615-1868) Hanging scroll, ink on paper 40 cm x 86.5 cm, 102 cm x 99.3 cm (mounted) Collection of Harald Conrad 浴室 Bathhouse Original calligraphy brushed as a template (gakuji...

CLOUDS by Wuxin Xingjue (Jp. Mushin Shōkaku)

CLOUDS by Wuxin Xingjue (Jp. Mushin Shōkaku)

Clouds Wuxin Xingjue 無心性覚 (Jp. Mushin Shōkaku, 1613- 1671) Japan, Edo period (1615-1868) Temple signboard, lacquer and gold on wood 27.8 cm x 54.5 cm, 40 cm x 66.5 cm (outer frame) Collection of Harald Conrad 雲邊木馬飛如電 海底泥牛吼似雷 A wooden horse flashes through the clouds,...

OBAKUSAN TEMPLE IN UJI by Kawase Hasui

Click here for image Ōbakusan Temple in Uji, 20th century Kawase Hasui 川瀬巴水 (1883–1957) Japan, 20th century Watercolors on paper 55.4 × 41.0 cm Art Institute of Chicago, Bruce Goff Archive, gift of Shin'enkan, Inc., 1990.607.350 Photo Credit: The Art Institute of...

LOTUS FLOWER HALL by Duzhan Xingying (Jp. Dokutan Shōkei)

Click here for image Lotus Flower Hall, 1704 Calligrapher: Duzhan Xingying 獨湛性瑩 (Jp. Dokutan Shōkei, 1628-1706) Inscribed and dated on the reverse by Ikka Genkai 乙華元開 (active c. 1704) Japan, Edo period (1615–1868) Temple signboard, ink, color, gold leaf, wood 66 x...

UDONGE by Yinyuan Longqi (Jp. Ingen Ryūki)

UDONGE by Yinyuan Longqi (Jp. Ingen Ryūki)

Udonge (flower of the cluster fig, or udumbara in Sanskrit), 1741 Yinyuan Longqi 隱元隆琦 (Jp. Ingen Ryūki, 1592-1673), calligrapher Inscribed and dated with the name of the donor, a Buddhist nun Japan, Edo Period (1615-1868) Temple signboard, lacquer and gold on wood 59...

CHINESE TEMPLE LANDSCAPE by Itō Jakuchū

CHINESE TEMPLE LANDSCAPE by Itō Jakuchū

Chinese Temple Landscape, 18th century Itō Jakuchū 伊藤 若冲 (1716–1800) Later inscription by Goto Shoin 後藤松陰 (1797-1864) Japan, Edo Period (1615-1868) Hanging scroll, ink on paper 101.6 x 28.4 cm The Manyo’an Collection of Japanese Art, the Gitter-Yelen Foundation,...