A power struggle soon arose among the leading vassals

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Unformatted text preview: o Amida with and among people everywhere. Although Ippen cannot be ranked in importance with Hònen and Shinran in the history of Pure Land Buddhism in Japan, he has been immortalized in one of the finest of all medieval emaki: the Scroll of Saint Ippen, painted approximately ten years after the evangelist’s death. This scroll is a narrative record of Ippen’s travels throughout the country, during the course of which he purportedly gathered the astounding total of some 2.5 million converts to his sect of Amidism. The Ippen Scroll is not only a work of art, it is also an invaluable document of thirteenth-century social history. Artistically, the scroll is perhaps most admired for its landscape background, which, although purely Japanese in subject matter, is executed in a style that shows the strong influence of Sung China. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, as we shall see, Sung painting served as the inspiration for a distinguished line of landscape artists in Japan. As a social document, the Ippen Scroll contains scenes of virtually 100 The Canons of Medieval Taste every major aspect of life and social activity in the Kamakura period, including people at work and play in the countryside and towns and gathered to meet Ippen at Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, and the private homes of the well-to-do. In one particularly lively scene from the scroll, Ippen is shown leading a group of followers in the ecstatic practice of the “dancing nembutsu”: that is, the singing of praise to Amida while dancing and tapping small hand-drums. The dancers are tightly crowded into a small frame structure, elegant carriages are clustered about on the street outside, and highborn ladies can be seen mingling with the townspeople. Apart from the proponents of Pure Land Buddhism, the person who most forcefully propagated the idea of universal salvation through faith was Nichiren (1222–82). One of the most exceptional and interesting figures in Japanese history, Nichiren founded the only major sect of Buddhism in Japan that did not derive directly from a religious institution already established...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.

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