Higo betto Jokei (肥後別当定慶)

Higo betto Jokei (1184? - unknown but after 1256) was a Busshi (sculptor of Buddhist Statues) during the Kamakura period. He was said to be a disciple of Kokei of the Keiha School.


There were many Busshi named 'Jokei' in Kamakura period. Jokei described in this article is different from 'Jokei' who was famous for carving the statue of Yuima (Vimalakirti) of Higashi-Kondo hall in Kofuku-ji Temple, Nara Prefecture; 'Jokei' here is called 'Higo betto (secretary in the office of the temple) Jokei' or 'Higo Jokei' to clearly identify him.

Known as the representative work of Jokei are the statue of Sho Kannon (Aryavalokitesvara) in Kurama-dera Temple (Kyoto), and the six statues of Roku Kannon (six Kannon) in Daihoon-ji Temple (Kyoto), all of which are the typical example of Buddhist statues of the 'Songs Style' in fashion during the Kamakura period. These statues exhibit strong distinct designs rare in the history of Buddhist sculptures in Japan; they are realistic sculptures having expressions of countenances of living women, slender bodies, elaborate hair design, and complicated and decorative vesture.

The statue of Kongo Rikishi of Sekigan-ji Temple (Hyogo) bears the inscription that he was 59 years old in 1242, meaning that his birth year can be calculated backward to be 1184. The Statue of Kongo Rikishi bears the inscription that he was a 'Master of Busshi in Nanpo school, Higo Hokkyo (the third highest rank for Buddhist priests),' showing that he was a Busshi from Nara (Nanpo). The inscription in the statue of Kongo Rikishi in Yokokura-ji Temple (Ibigawa-cho) (Gifu Prefecture) says he was 'Master of Busshi living in Tsubosaka, Hogan Daiosho rank,' meaning that he was in the priest rank of Hogen (the second highest rank in the hierarchy of Buddhist priests) and lived in Tsubosaka (Takatori-cho, Takaichi-gun, Nara Prefecture) in his late years.


Standing Statue of Sho Kannon of Kurama-dera Temple (important cultural property): 1226
Six Statues of Roku Kannon of Daihoon-ji Temple (important cultural property) : 1224
Originally they were in Kyoodo hall of Kitano-Tenman-gu Shrine. One of the six statues, the statue of Juntei Kannon bears an inscription within its body.

Standing Statue of Bishamonten in Tokyo University of the Arts: 1224
Standing Statue of Kongo Rikishi (Nio) of Sekigan-ji Temple (Hyogo) (important cultural property): 1242
Standing Statue of Kongo Rikishi of Yokokura-ji Temple (Ibigawa-cho) (Gifu) (important cultural property): 1256


Some say that Higo betto Jokei was Unkei's second son, Koun.