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 (Notes on Titles)

THE ICHIBOKU SCULPTURES BY MARK LINDQUIST

Ichiboku, literally "one tree," is a type of Japanese sculpture made from a single block of wood. This technique flourished in the ninth century when a spirit of religious revivalism prevailed, and the spirit of the tree was invoked to lend strength to the image carved from it.

During the early Heian period, wood's predominant use for sculpture brought about unusual techniques as well as profound rituals. A mystical ritualistic aspect of purification was required in the use of materials, and the sculptor would purify himself as well as his tools prior to working.

The works in Mark Lindquist's "Ichiboku" series of sculptures are based on techniques and ideologies of Japanese Heian period artists. The sculptures are lathe-turned and carved from Florida cherry and pecan woods, and polychromed or stained with pigments in oils. The following statements explain the historical references to which the titles allude:

Natabori, "hatchet carving," refers to a technique in Japanese Buddhist sculpture of the Heian period in which the surface of the work is not smoothed off, but instead decorative patterns of repetitive hatchet strokes are allowed to articulate the outer skin of the image.

Hompa Shiki, literally "rolling wave," refers to the deep carving technique which emulates a stylistic interpretation of drapery. No attempt is made by the sculptor to reproduce realistic folds, but rather to achieve the expression of mysterious, beautiful forms of sensuous, undulating, rhythmic sculpture.

Mongaku was a late twelfth century samurai who retreated to the Kumano Mountains and stood under the ice-cold waters of Nachi Waterfall for penance and to temper his resolve. Afterward he became a priest and took up residence in the Temple of Jingoji in the Takao Mountains where he devoted his energies to the restoration of the temple. He was a man of prodigious energy and inner strength, a dark and brooding figure resident deep in the mountains outside of Kyoto.

Akikonomu, "lover of autumn," was a major figure in the eleventh century novel The Tales of Genji. Prince Genji built apartments for Akikonomu in his Nijo palace and planned the gardens outside her veranda to be beautiful throughout the year but at their peak in autumn, her favorite season.

Ki no Kami, according to Shinto carpenters, is the divinity residing in a tree. When a tree is felled, the Ki no Kami becomes enraged that his home has been assaulted. Years must pass before the tree can be cut for use, giving him time to calm his anguished writhing and exit the log without causing it to crack.

Yama Uba, "old woman of the mountains," is an enigmatic mythic figure from the Heian period, sometimes a benevolent spirit, sometimes a nurturing mother. She made a home in the mountains where she reared her son Kintaro, a child of extraordinary strength. (He later became the renowned warrior Sakata no Kintoki.) Yama Uba is often depicted as a soslitary soul wandering through the hills, savoring the passage of seasons, and becoming one with the natural world.

Atsumori: During the Gempei Civil War, both armies listened as a young warrior named Atsumori played the flute plaintively during the night before the Dannoura Battle. The old warrior, Kumagai, was deeply moved by the music, and, after the battle, wept to learn that a young warrior he had killed was the musician who had touched his soul the night before.

Yosegi Zukuri:  The development of yosegi-zukuri (started in the late 10th century by the sculptor Jouchou circa 1057) provided an efficient and expeditious use of sometimes scarce materials whereby the inside of the statue could be hollowed. Life-size or smaller statues were made by either yosegi-zukuri, ichiboku-zukuri, or warihagi techniques.

Consultant on Titles:  Dr. Penelope Mason
Professor of Art History/Director of Asian Studies
Florida State University

 


 

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