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Who is Unkei?

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By Gwylym Owen

Unkei (Japanese: 運慶; c. 1150 – 1223) was a Japanese sculptor of the Kei school, which flourished in the Kamakura period. He specialized in statues of the Buddha and extra important Buddhist figures. Unkei’s to come works are fairly traditional, similar accepted to pieces by his father, Kōkei. However, the sculptures he produced for the Tōdai-ji in Nara be in a flair for reality different from anything Japan had seen before. Today, Unkei is the best known of the Kei artists, and many art historians deem him its “most distinguished member”.

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