• Tuesday, July 5, 2011

    The Five Hundred Arhats

    "The Five Hundred Arhats" by Kazunobu Kano (1816-1863)

    Arhat, in Buddhism, signifies a spiritual practitioner who has realized certain high stages of attainment. The implications of the term vary based on the respective schools and traditions.
    In Buddhism, those who obtain certain high stages of enlightenment are known as arhats. The pieces of The Five Hundred Arhats illustrate the many miracles performed by the 500 arhats. There are a total of 100 pieces, each measuring approximately 172cm x 85cm.One can see the skill of the artist in his depiction of hell.
    A year earlier, in 1854, the head priest at the Genkoin Temple (Tokyo) had asked Kazunobu to create a series of 100 scrolls depicting the lives of the "500 arhats." 

    Kazunobu Kano
    Kazunobu Began working on the Five Hundred Arhats in 1854. It took Kazunobu
    just under a decade before his death in 1863 to complete this epic work, begining with the first scroll and refining the overall conception of the se of 100 paintings, scroll by scroll, through preparation of and consultation on the preliminary sketches.
    The Five Hundred Arhats was created just when Western culture was beginning to come into Japan. Kazunobu mimicked the Western paintings he came in contact with, adopting into his work many techniques of shadowing and perspective unknown in Japan at the time.
    Kazunobu died at the age of 48. He finished being drawn up to 96 scrolls and he spent about ten years on the production of "The Five Hundred Arhat". Apprentices completed four scrolls of the remainder....

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