Enku’s Buddhas: Sculptures from Senkoji Temple and the Hida Region

Seated Ryomen Sukuna, By Enku, Edo period, 17th century, Senkouji, Gifu

Enku (1632-95) was a Buddhist monk and sculptor who is said to have carved 120,000 Buddhist statues in his lifetime while making pilgrimages to sacred mountains all over Japan. Using wood from forests in the places he visited, Enku readily created Buddhist statues. Many of his statues are unpainted and clearly show knots in the wood as well as places where the wood was chopped or chiseled. Conveying the wood’s vitality, Enku’s unostentatious statues of Buddha were favored by villagers from the Edo period (1603-1868) onward, and even today they attract many admirers. Read more about Enku and his work in Asian Art Newspaper’s “Enku: The Extraordinary Monk of the 17th Century Japan” by Michael Dunn.

Seated Ryomen SukunaStanding Fudo Myo'o (Acala) with two child attendants

Left: Seated Ryomen Sukuna Edo period, 17th century, Senkoji, Gifu |
Right: Standing Fudo Myo’o (Acala) with two child attendants, Edo period, 17th century, Senkoji, Gifu

Standing Thirty-three Kannon (Avalokitesvara)


Standing Thirty-three Kannon (Avalokitesvara) Edo period, 17th century, Senkoji, Gifu

This exhibition introduces 100 Enku’s statues from Takayama City in Gifu prefecture, with a focus on 61Enku’s statues from Senkouji temple, including the Seated Ryomen Sukuna, a prized statue of a two-faced deity. There are also statues with the inscribed names of mountains Enku climbed, including Mount Hotaka and Mount Norikura. Standing like trees in the exhibition room, Enku’s statues evoke the atmosphere of Hida’s forests.

Special Exhibition now on at the Honkan Room T5  Tokyo National Museum (Ueno Park) January 12, 2013 (Sat) – April 7, 2013 (Sun) (With the assistance of the Takayama Board of Education) See more at the TNM website

Wooden wonders

Visitors admire wooden Buddha sculptures created by Enku, an Edo-period (1603-1867) monk, at Tokyo National Museum in Ueno on Saturday. The special exhibition titled “Hida no Enku” opened on the day and features 100 statues by the monk, including some from Senkoji temple and other sites in Takayama, Gifu Prefecture, where many of his works remain. The statues displayed at the entrance are over two meters tall. About 180 people had gathered at the museum when it opened its doors for the exhibition, which will be held through April 7, to enjoy the simple and mysterious wooden art.

(Yomiuri Shimbun Jan. 13, 2013)


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