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Yi Xingmo

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  • Died: 1260/7/11
  • Chinese/Japanese: 行末 (Yī Xíngmò / I no Gyoumatsu, I no Yukisue)

Yī Xíngmò was a Chinese stonemason of the Southern Song Dynasty, known for his involvement in the reconstruction of Tôdai-ji following the Genpei War, and for his role in introducing new stone-carving forms.

Originally from Ningbo (then called Mingzhou), he came to Japan alongside a group of other stonemasons, and contributed to the reconstruction of a number of objects at Tôdai-ji, including stone platforms for the Great Buddha Hall and Lecture Hall (Kôdô), stone statues of the Deva Kings for the Great Buddha Hall, and stone lions for the Chûmon (Middle Gate). Much later in life, he is known to have also contributed to projects at Daizô-ji in Nara in 1240, the 13-story stone pagoda at Hannya-ji in 1253, and stone lanterns for the Hokke-dô at Tôdai-ji in 1254; a number of these objects still survive, and it is by inscriptions on them that we know of Yi's involvement.

Yi Xingmo and his son Yi Xingji (I no Yukiyoshi) remained in Japan the rest of their lives, and represent the beginning of several lineages of stonemasons, credited with developing the first gorintô stone grave markers and contributing to numerous stoneworking projects at major temples; while many of their works surely do not survive, many others do, all across Japan. From inscriptions, we know that Yi Xingmo's descendants and disciples included figures such as Yi Moxing (I no Sueyuki), who contributed to the construction of a stone Buddha in Kyoto in 1299; I no Yukitsune, who served as head of Satsuma province carpenters in the 14th century; I no Yukinaga, and so on. They divided into the I school (I-ha) and Ôkura school (Ôkura-ha) of stonework, who continued to spread the practice of gorintô stone grave markers, very quickly reaching a large swath of the archipelago.

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