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Lacquered Wooden Buddhist Monk
Lacquered Wooden Buddhist Monk, depicting a Buddhist monk seated in dhyanasana, hands folded in gasshô, gesture of greeting, dressed in a loose monastic robe secured over the proper left shoulder with a ring pendant and with polychrome floral decoration, the eyes set with glass
Edo period, 18th century, Japan
Height: 53 cm.
Width: 40 cm.
Provenance: Paris collection, France
Condition: Traces of use and old wear as expected, some touch ups, age cracks and losses. Generally, in very good condition, commensurate with age, and better than most lacquered and gilt wood statues of this size and period.
-Edo (Tokugawa)-Period (1603–1868)
After the Sengoku period of war, Japan was re-united by the Tokugawa Shogunate (1600–1868) who ran the country through a feudal system of regional daimyō. The Tokugawa also banned most foreigners from entering the country. The only traders to be allowed were the Dutch at the island of Dejima.
During the seventeenth century, the Tokugawa shōgun Iemitsu set into motion a series of reforms which sought to increase state control of religion (as well as to eliminate Christianity). Iemitsu’s reforms developed what has been called the head–branch system (hon-matsu seido) and the temple affiliation system (jidan; alt. danka seido). This system made use of already existing Buddhist institutions and affiliations, but attempted to bring them under official government control and required all temples to be affiliated with a government recognized lineage. In general, the Tendai, Pure Land, and Shingon sects were treated more favourably than the True Pure Land and Nichiren sects because the latter had a history of inciting socio-political disturbances in the 16th century.
Buddhist leaders often worked with the government, providing religious support for their rule. For example, the Zen monk Takuan Sōhō (1573–1645) suggested that the spirit of Tokugawa Ieyasu, was a kami (divine spirit). He also wrote a book on zen and martial arts (The Unfettered Mind) addressed to the samurai. Meanwhile, Suzuki Shōsan would even call the Tokugawa shōgun a “holy king” (shōō).
In the Edo Period, Buddhist institutions procured funding through various ritual means, such as the sale of talismans, posthumous names and titles, prayer petitions, and medicine. The practice of pilgrimage was also prominent in the Edo Period. Many temples and holy sites like Mt. Kōya, Mt. Konpira and Mt. Ōyama (Sagami Province) hosted Buddhist pilgrims and mountain ascetics throughout the era.
Portrait of Chinese monk Yinyuan (Ingen), who founded the Ōbaku school
During the 17th century, the Ōbaku lineage of Zen would be introduced by Ingen, a Chinese monk. Ingen had been a member of the Linji school in Ming China. This lineage, which promoted the dual practice of zazen and nembutsu, would be highly successful, having over a thousand temples by the mid-18th century.
Meanwhile, a new breed of public preachers was beginning to frequent public spaces and develop new forms of preaching. These include Pure Land monk Sakuden (1554–1642), who is seen as an originator of Rakugo humor and wrote the Seisuishō (Laughs to Wake You Up), which is a collection of humorous anecdotes. Other traveling preachers of the era who made use of stories and narratives include the Shingon-Ritsu monk Rentai (1663–1726) and the Pure Land monk Asai Ryōi (d. 1691).
Hakuin Ekaku (1685–1768) laid a strong emphasis on kōan training as the original pedagogical means of his tradition, combining it with a somatic practice by drawing on ideas from Chinese medicine and Daoism. Hakuin also criticized the mixing of Zen and Pure Land. His views became influential in the Meji-period (1868–1931), when his dharma-heirs came to dominate the Japanese Rinzai-school.
Making Prints, by Hosoki Toshikazu c. 1879
Illustration of a book published in 1814
During the Edo period, there was an unprecedented growth of print publishing (in part due to the support of the Tokugawa regime), and the creation and sale of printed Buddhist works exploded. The Tendai monk Tenkai, supported by Iemitsu, led the printing of the Buddhist “canon” (issaikyō, i.e. The Tripiṭaka). Deal & Ruppert (2015) pp. 184–186 Also notable was the publication of an exceptionally high quality reprint of the Ming-era Tripiṭaka by Tetsugen Doko, a renowned master of the Ōbaku school. An important part of the publishing boom were books of Buddhist sermons called kange-bon or dangi-bon.
With the support of the Shogunate, Buddhist scholasticism also thrived during the Edo period, and the major Buddhist schools established new systems of scholastic study in their schools’ seminaries (danrin). Examples include the 18 Jōdo school danrin in Kantō, which were patronized by the Tokugawa family, the most prominent being Zōjōji. The True Pure Land lineages established an extensive seminary system which constituted what would eventually become Ryūkoku University. There was also a renaissance of Sanskrit studies in the Shingon school, led by figures such as Jōgon (1639–1702) and Jiun Sonja (1718–1804). Meanwhile, in Sōtō Zen, scholars led by Menzan Zuihō (1683–1769) undertook a major attempt to publish and study the works of Dōgen.
Also, during this time there was a widespread movement among many Buddhist sects to return to the proper use of Buddhist precepts. Numerous figures in the Ōbaku, Shingon, Shingon-risshū, Nichiren, Jōdo shū and Soto schools participated in this effort to tighten and reform Buddhist ethical discipline.-From Wikipedia