Testamentary Statement, by Toho E'nichi

  • Nambokucho period
  • 14c
  • Hanging scroll, ink on paper
  • H-31.4 W-92.3
Catalogue Entry

by Toho E'nichi
Nambokucho period, 14th century (dated May 8th, 1354)
Hanging scroll, ink on paper
Height, 31.4cm; width, 92.3cm

E'nichi was the 5th generation head of the temple Keiaiji (Rinzai sect), which was founded by Nyodai and was the premiere convent temple of the Five Principal Convent Temples. This text by E'nichi, an itemization in letter form, has the introductory section written in the ottegaki writing style in which the lines begin one character lower than normal. In the 5th month of 1354 (Bun'na 3), E'nichi had transferred the responsibilities of head nun of Keiaiji to Karin Egon, and on that occasion, she wrote this 4-article testamentary statement. The 4 items discussed include: an earnest petition for the completion of the construction (donation) of Keiaiji's Buddha Hall; for Egon to assist her disciples, as she is an inexperienced woman; to deposit the important papers of Keiaiji with another (to consult with the priest of Ungoan, Tenryuji upon Egon's retirement or death), and to not allow those who are disobedient (insubordinate) to enter the temple, even if they ask to be made disciples. While this statement was conveyed to both her disciples and her outside patrons, it seems to have had a specific addressee.

The opening passage, which can be seen as either a postscript or as an introduction, expresses her happiness at the resolution of the conflict within Tenryuji by imperial decision. This temple is the great temple of their same Bukko school and was founded by Muso (1275-1351). She conveyed her congratulations to the disciple who was the head priest of the Ungoan of Tenryuji and asks for their kindness towards Keiaiji. Thus this introductory passage, or testamentary statement, entrusts the matters after her death to the head of the Ungoan of Tenryuji.

In the Edo period, this testamentary text was handed down with texts by Nyodai (with 2 or 3 others), and this hindered scholars' investigation of calligraphy by E'nichi. According to Dr. Otsuka Jicchu, a scholar of writings by Buddhist nuns, this was determined to be the 6th head of Keiaiji, Toho E'nichi. Here an explanation of the imperial decision regarding Tenryuji, etc., will be omitted.

When the armies of the Southern Court advanced upon Kyoto as part of the dispute between the Ashikaga brothers, Takauji and Tadayoshi, Mukyoku was reinstated as the head priest of Tenryuji, and death sentences were meted out to the brothers Ko-no-Moronao and Moroyasu who had expanded the Shomyakuin branch temple of Keiaiji. These and other such events show how Tenryuji and Keiaiji were swept up in the political disturbances of the day. This letter provides new historical material for research. FN