Increasingly deprived of political power the

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Unformatted text preview: uding Jògan (early Heian) as well as Tempyò. Yet, in the minds of many critics, Unkei was also deeply influenced as an artist by his exposure to warrior life in Kamakura, which he visited to do work on commission for high officers of the shogunate. Hence, one may well choose to regard as “samurai pieces” such realistically detailed and dynamically postured statues as the two guardian deities at the Tòdaiji (attributed to Unkei and another member of his school, Kaikei [dates unknown]). Despite the achievements of Unkei, his colleagues, and some of his successors, sculpture—and especially religious sculpture—declined steadily during the Kamakura period and never again became a major art in Japan. Probably the chief reason for this was that some medieval sects of Buddhism strongly de-emphasized iconography and the use of art for strictly religious purposes. Like Buddhist sculpture, Buddhist painting also steadily gave ground to secular art in medieval times. One of the most significant developments in painting was in the field of realistic portraiture. So far as we know, Heian artists had made no attempt to depict the actual likenesses of real people. Some scholars suggest that this was largely because the deeply superstitious courtiers feared that portraits might be used for the casting of evil spells. In any case, it was not until about the time of the struggles between the Taira and the Minamoto that the earliest portraits were done. Among the best known is one of Yoritomo by an artist of the Fujiwara clan. The founding of the Kamakura shogunate did not cause the immediate The Canons of Medieval Taste 95 fossilization of the imperial court as a governing body. Indeed, the court retained certain residual powers for at least another century and a half (for example, it continued to appoint governors who operated side by side in the provinces with the military constables); and when the shogunate was overthrown in 1333, an emperor even attempted to restore the throne to a position of absolute rulership in the country. But the trend durin...
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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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