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Japanese, 8th – 9th century, male.

Born 774, in Boyobugaura; died 22 April 835.

Painter, calligrapher, poet.

Kukai was a priest and founder of Shingon (‘true word’) esoteric Buddhism in Japan. He is best known as Kobo Daishi (‘propagator of the Dharma’), his posthumous name. He founded temples in Nara on Mount Koya and the Toji temple complex outside Kyoto. After a lengthy visit to China, Kukai brought back techniques that were to have an important influence on the birth of Japanese art....


German, 9th century, male.

Born 776, in Mainz; died 856, in Mainz.

Miniaturist, poet.

A pupil of Alcuin and a monk in Fulda, Rabanus later became Archbishop of Mainz. He illustrated his books with dedications and symbolic paintings in a primitive Christian style.


Chinese, 9th century, male.

Born c. 810; died c. 880.

Art critic, art historian, collector.

The scion of an illustrious line of officials, Zhang Yanyuan probably took his first steps as an art historian in his family’s own rich collections. He wrote a monumental work of art history, the ...