Japanese tenkoku (seal-engraving) history (日本の篆刻史)

It is the history of the tenkoku and insho (seals) in Japan.

The Edo period

The early Edo period
Private seals, which became popular in the Muromachi period, were still used by people, centering around Confucians such as Seika FUJIWARA and Razan HAYASHI in the early Edo period. Also, artists like Koetsu HONAMI and Sotatsu TAWARAYA used their own seals. It is unclear who engraved those seals. However, the tenkoku of Jozan ISHIKAWA, with its gorgeous style like that of the literati from the Ming dynasty, is different from others of this period. It can be said that he was one of the pioneers of tenkoku in Japan because he had friends from Ming, and it is possible that he learned the tenkoku and engraved his own. Except for Jozan's, seals in this period were generally for practical use and were therefore not engraved in the correct script and method of engraving.

The Kintai (current style) school
After the collapse of the Ming dynasty, Zen priests of the Obakushu sect who defected to Japan to escape the Ching dynasty's tyranny brought new tenkoku. Also, Ingen, Mokuan Shoto, Sokuhi Nyoitsu, Kosen Shoton, Mokusu Nyojo and Rankoku often engraved tenkoku. Particularly, Dokuryu, who came to Nagasaki in 1653, was a learned person and skillful calligrapher who had already achieved fame in his home country. He came to Edo with Ingen, educated the public about the correct method of calligraphy and spread the tenkoku of the Ming dynasty. Therefore, Dokuryu is considered to be the founder of the Japanese tenkoku. Through his disciple Gentai KO, it was also spread among those people now known collectively as the early Edo school, such as Koshu SAKAKIBARA, Ippo IKENAGA and Kotaku HOSOI. There is another notable priest, Toko Shinetsu, who came from China in 1677. He served Mitsukuni TOKUGAWA and taught tenkoku to many people, including Koshu SAKAKIBARA and Seiken MATSUURA.

This new trend of tenkoku spread throughout the country, turning to the early Roka school established by Mosho NIIOKI and Itsuzan in Osaka as well as the Nagasaki school established by Hakumin GEN in Nagasaki.
Those schools, which embraced the tenkoku from the Ming and Ching dynasties, are referred to as 'the Kintai school.'
It is considered that the Kintai school, in particular, inherited the trend of 'O Keishuku.'

The Kotai (old style) school

The tenkoku of the Kintai school flourished mainly in Edo, but it became overly decorative and vulgar. Also, due to the transport of books by ship it became easier to get information about the tenkoku in China, so that "Kokon Inshi," written by Jokan, and "Gakukohen," written by Go Kyuen, were published. Given the circumstances, 'the Kotai school' was established by Fuyo KO. It tried to eliminate the negative effect of the decorative trend, advocate primitivism and a return to the tenkoku by following the correct method from the Qin and Han dynasties. Fuyo had masters under him such as Kenkado KIMURA and Taiga IKE, as well as disciples such as Shikin KATSU, Koretada SO, Zoroku HAMAMURA, Kyoshu MAEKAWA and Iryo GEN, so the school flourished and spread throughout the country after the late Edo period.

Other than the two major schools of tenkoku in the Edo period--the Kintai school and the Kotai school--there were the Mito school established by people such as Kyosho TACHIHARA and the trend of tenkoku by the literati such as Syunsui RAI.

The late Edo period
The Kotai school of Fuyo KO which had been a dominant influence, changed gradually at the end of the Edo period, so that there appeared people who departed from the style of the Kotai school and highlighted their own uniqueness. The style of Rinkoku HOSOKAWA, which was exquistely beautiful and fresh, spread widely and he became famous. After he toured Nagasaki, he lived in Kyoto and Edo and was active in both places. His sons Rinsai and Rissai RAI, as well as others, inherited the style, which continued after the Meiji Restoration. In Edo, Zoroku HAMAMURA II was called Master Zoroku and developed his own new style. Also in Edo, Kinsai MASUDA revived the early Edo school, keeping the old style and adding his originality, and established the Johekikyo school with his son, Gusho MASUDA.

The Meiji and Taisho periods
The Hoshu (conservative) school
After the Meiji Restoration, as the Kotai school entered a state of decline, the style was inherited by the Hoshu school. Suichiku NAKAMURA and Rekido ABEI of the school, in Kyoto, engraved the seals of the Emperor and the nation. Also in Edo, Katei HAKURA and Chikuun YAMATOMO, who inherited the style of Zoroku HAMAMURA IV and Rinkoku HOSOKAWA, each played an active role. Keisho NAKAI, who gained a high level of knowledge from Zoroku HAMAMURA IV and Gusho MASUDA, was the one most representative of this school. Also, Kanzan YAMADA, whose style is bold and open-minded, was from that school.

The Kakushin (progressive) school
In 1880, Yang Shoujing came to Japan and introduced Hokuhi (epitaphs from the Northern Wei dynasty), by which people were enlightened and books of the Hokuhi school became popular. As a result, some people who started tenkoku of the Higaku (study of Hokuhi) school referred to themselves as the "Kakushin" school. Among them were Kendo KOSONE, Kaishin SHINODA, Taiu MARUYAMA, Randai NAKAMURA (the first), Zoroku HAMAMURA (the fifth), Tetsujo KUWANA, Senro KAWAI and others. Some people, including Taiu and Senro, went to Quing and learned tenkoku directly from Xu Sangeng and Goshoseki. Senro, in particular, learned from Goshoseki with Uzan NAGAO and joined the academic society Xi Ling Yin She.