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date: 19 November 2019

Enkūlocked

(b Mino Province [now Gifu Prefecture], 1632; d 1695).
  • Donald F. McCallum

Extract

(b Mino Province [now Gifu Prefecture], 1632; d 1695).

Japanese sculptor and Buddhist itinerant monk (hijiri). He was active during the early Edo period (1600–1868). He entered the priesthood of the Tendai sect (see Buddhism §III 10.) at an early age, this being one of the few means of advancement within feudal society for individuals of the lower classes. Enkū began sculpting images in the early 1660s for both Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in his home province. In the later 1660s he made an important missionary expedition to the Tōhoku region of Honshu and to the northern island of Hokkaido, which had only recently come under the control of the Tokugawa shogunate, introducing Buddhism and Buddhist imagery to that still remote island. Thereafter he travelled extensively, carving icons for rural temples and wayside shrines in Honshu, especially in the Kantō and Chūbu regions. He also carved images on living trees on mountain-tops. For more than 300 years his works were little known outside their localities; to local people they were objects of worship, imbued with magical powers to heal and protect....

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Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan, 9 vols (Tokyo and New York, 1983), suppl. (Tokyo and New York, 1986)