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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
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.
- Spring '13