3 Super Stars, One Vision: Fujin Raijin (Gods of Wind and Thunder)

2016.11.07

One of last year’s best exhibits: Rinpa

“Rinpa” is a school of art created in the 17th century in Kyoto. It was collectively created by Hon’ami Kōetsu, Tawaraya Sōtatsu, and Korin Ogata, and these are the three masters who were displayed at this exhibit. The name itself comes from Korin’s “Rin” and “ha/pa” meaning “school” or “side”. Thus the name “Rinpa” essentially means “The Rin School”. While these three masters are displayed together, they didn’t have a master and pupil relationship. In fact, they were born at such different times that they never met! So why are they referred to as part of the same school?

Three greats, in one place. ”Fūjin Raijin-zu” (Wind and Thunder Gods) folding screens

National Treasure: Fujin Raijin figure Folding Screens created by Tawaraya Sōtatsu / Kyoto Kennin-ji / Full Term Exhibition
“National Treasure: “Fujin Raijin figure Folding Screens” created by Tawaraya Sōtatsu / Kyoto Kennin-ji / Full Term Exhibition”

Practically all Japanese people know about the “Fujin and Raijin Folding screens”, which depict the gods of wind and thunder. The blinds depict the two gods sitting atop a seemingly infinite expanse of gold. But less well known is the fact that there are three versions. The first was created at the end of the 15th century and the start of the 16th century by Sotatsu (Picture above, a national treasure). Then 100 years later, Korin replicated it with reverence to Sotatsu. Finally another 100 years later Hoitsu replicated it once more, creating a tradition.

These three masters inherited the techniques of their predecessors by replicating the works of the past. However this obviously wasn’t called “Rinpa” at the time. While at first glance these pieces look the same, each hides a unique and individual spirit that reveal something of their creator. For this Rinpa Exhibit, all three of these “Fujin Raijin Screens” were only displayed in the same place for a short time.

Next page《Other masterpieces by Sotatsu, Korin and Hoitsu also exhibited》