The Influence of the Buddhist Sculptor Unkei: With a Focus on Koen and Zen’en
[Image: Seated Monju Bosatsu (Manjusri) from the sculptures of Monju Bosatsu “On a lion with attendants” (detail) by Koen, formerly passed down at Kofukuji, Nara, Kamakura period, dated 1273 (Important Cultural Property)]
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The realistic style of the Buddhist sculptor Unkei (d. 1223), with its powerful, dynamic forms and rich expression of volume, had an undeniable influence on the sculptors of later generations. Unkei’s grandson, Koen (b. 1207), for example, inherited his grandfather’s style and succeeded in making it more approachable, while the sculptors of the Zenpa school, including Zen’en (1197–1258), elaborated on Unkei’s style in the Nara region. This thematic exhibition explores how these sculptors inherited and transformed the style of Unkei in the Kamakura period (1192–1333).