Gregory P Levine is a distinguished scholar for his masterly work in analyzing the historical events in Japan. He wrote an article “Switching Sites and Identities: The Founder's Statue at the Buddhist Temple Korin'in” which he describes a Japanese portrait statue made during the seventeenth century. The statue displays the monk Shokei Jofu that is found the Zen Buddhist temple Korin’in in Kyoto. The statue had inscriptions, which are significant for historical analysis by those of interest. Levine based his interest on the inscriptions and the order of temples site with the portrait as he carried out his research. He studied how the relationship of the historical fieldwork and that of Korin’in statute had affected the current history (Levine 73).
Levine’s article explains the Founder’s statue at Korin’in, which is found, enshrined on the Shokei Jofu temples altar. There are no details given in the temple’s records concerning the Founder’s statue hence these created interest for Levine to know the secret behind it. The statues in the Daitokuji temples are those of the Zen masters, which are significant because it emphasizes on the religious leaders of the monastery and how their teaching affected the lineage. Monk Jofu a monastery‘s chief received the title Zen Master in the year 1525. He played a pivotal role of beginning the Korin’in, which is a well-known family temple and a mortuary site. Jofu was buried in the Korin’in after his death in 1536, and this was marked by with a stupa.
Jofu’s presence has been of significance because it displays fundamental elements of calligraphy, historical records, writings and monastic factors that are of use in the present day. Korin’in‘s founder’s statue is a crucial portrait with iconic purpose for the remembrance of Jofu after his death. The statue is also a spiritual identity symbol to the community because of Jofu’s religious inspirations during his lineage of leadership. In Levine’s article, the founder’s statue was of immense significance to both social and religious aspects of the society (Levine 78).
Korin’in founder’s statue was a three-dimensional sculpture, and this style had a lot to communicate. The statue was 43 inches in height with features of iconography, decorations that were in the form of the Zen portrait and many curving. The sculpture was coated with polychrome, licquer, and primer to show that it had aged. The iconography in the sculpture revealed the people’s authority, ritual gestures of the abbot office, and the ancestral ideology. The monk Jofu’s way of seating at the front of the office imitates the Buddha system of leadership. The aspects of gold across the blue bands illustrate the initial garments which Jofu himself wore. The flywhisk with Jofu’s image reveals the significant of the monk in teaching the community the fundamental values of life. This human like sculpture critically created to capture the viewer’s attention because of its beauty and calm nature (Levine 81).
The Jofu monk has been of significant to the community in the present day as it is an academic centre for students and a museum. The monk is a historical record providing data to be analyzed by scholars in relation to personal and spiritual aspects revealed in the sculpture. The physiognomic nature of a variety of Chinso has given evidence to historian concerning the resemblance of the sculpture to the actual human being. This showed a direct transfer of ideas from generation to generation hence allowing continuity of a given lineage.
Soken’in in Nobunaga’s temple is another historical site of considerable interest. In this site, there is a wooden image of Nobunaga, which was, curved Hideyoshi and his fellows were making offerings. Hideyoshi made incense offerings to their god Nobunaga who was at the centre of the temple. The gleamed eyes of the sculpture portrayed a sense of power to individuals unlike to the Jofu monk in the Korin’in. Hideyoshi established Tezuiji as her mother’s mortuary site. The sculpture was different from the Korein’in by having paintings in its interior part other than inscriptions. Scholars have gone ahead to analyze the Tenzuiji abbot by looking at its paintings, which presently appear on the sliding door paintings (Levine 86).
It is crucial to conclude that Levine’s article reveal a lot on the information portrayed by various images created in the historic times. He bases his passionate interest in the three-dimensional sculptures and the icons behind them. The Korein’in‘s founder’s sculpture still remains a valuable source historic information as revealed in the article. It had both personality and spiritual aspirations to the temple community up to the present time. This and many other images curved by many other individuals provide records for analyzing historic data (Levine 92).
Levine, Gregory P. Switching Sites and Identities: The Founder's Statue at the Buddhist Temple
Korin'in. The Art Bulletin, March 2001, vol. 83(1), pp 72-104