Mokkei (牧谿)

Mokkei (year of his birth and death unknown) was a Buddhist Monk in the late 13th century, during the period from the end of Southern Sung dynasty to the early Yuan dynasty. Although his hoi (personal name) was Hojo and Mokkei was go (artist name), he is normally called Mokkei. He is famous as a painter of suibokuga (ink-wash painting).

He hailed from Sichuan Province. It is believed that he later moved to Zhejiang Province located at the downstream of the Yangtze river and became a disciple of Bushun Shiban. Though some people say that he was not appreciated so much in China, it is considered that he was appreciated as a painter at that time since he had a connection with heavyweight politicians like Sidao JIA. It might be correct to say that Buddhist art was relatively undervalued after bunjinga (literal painting) became popular and Mokkei suffered from the repurcussion. Mokkei's paintings were criticized as unrefined and gradually fell into oblivion in China.

Acceptance in Japan
His works were imported into Japan at the beginning of the 14th century, the end of Kamakura Period, since Japanese and Chinese Zen temples communicated vigorouly. His works became popular around the middle of the 14th century to the extent that many forged paintings were created. According to the documents at the time, he was so loved by people that a term "osho" (Buddist monk) refered to Mokkei. His works of suibokuga, which were painted with unique technique and make people feel moist atmosphere, were highly appreciated, gave big impact on suibokuga in the Muromachi and created many followers. Among them, Kao is famous during the early stage. In the 15th century, Noami created "Kachozu Byobu" (folding screen with the painting of flowers and birds) (owned by Idemitsu Museum of Arts) by inlaying the folding screen with the motives of Mokkei's painting. A monkey was especially popular among the motives of Mokkei, and many of the painter of Kanto suibokuga, such as Sesson and Terutada SHIKIBU, painted a monkey. Tohaku HASEGAWA was the painter who studied Mokkei most earnestly. Many of his works were apparently affected by Mokkei, and his best work Shorinzu Byobu (folding screen with the painting of pine tree forest) is the fruits of his study.

Important works

Kannon Enkaku zu (national treasure, owned by Daitoku-ji Temple)
Gyoson Yusho zu (national treasure, owned by Nezu Museum)