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Chapter 8: Shrines, Statues and Scrolls : 

Chapter 8: Shrines, Statues and Scrolls The Art of Early Japan By Elaine Nguyen, Ann Le, Tanya Lai

The Art of Early Japan : 

The Art of Early Japan The Japanese islands consists of four main islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Japanese culture reveals a responsiveness to imported ideas such as Buddhism and Chinese writing systems. Japan’s close proximity to the continent has promoted broad exchange with mainland cultures, while the sea has protected it from invasions and helped it to be unique.

Japan Before Buddhism : 

Japan Before Buddhism Jomon Period (10,500-300 BCE): One of Japan’s earliest distinct culture, Jomon, meaning “cord markings”, refers to the technique that this culture used to decorate earthenware vessels. Prefecture: A district without a governor.

Vessel, from Miyanomae, Nagano PrefectureL: Tokyo National Museum D: 2500-1500 BCE, Middle Jomon Period : 

Vessel, from Miyanomae, Nagano PrefectureL: Tokyo National Museum D: 2500-1500 BCE, Middle Jomon Period

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Has a characteristic, intricately modeled surface. Sculpted rim. Thick and heavy.

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Yayoi (300 BCE-300 CE) Produced pottery that was less sculptural and sometimes polychrome Developed bronze casting and loom weaving Kofon (330-552CE)

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Dotaku (bell) with incised figural motifs, Kagawa Prefecture L: Tokyo National Museum D: 100-300 CE, Late Yayoi Period

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The ornament consists of simple line drawings of people and animals. Scholars have reached no conclusion on the meaning of these images. The Dotaku engravings are the earliest surviving examples of pictorial art in Japan.

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Tomb of Emperor Nintoku, Sakai, Osaka Prefecture L: Japan D: Kofun Period, Late 4th-Early 5th century

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Known as largest tumulus (pit graves covered by sometimes enormous mounds). Central mound, which takes the keyhole form. 1,600 feet long and rises to a height of 90 feet. It covers 458 acres. Objects were placed with the coffin to assist in the transition to the next life.

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Haniwa (cylindrical) warrior figure, from Gunma Prefecture L: Aikawa Archaeological Museum, Aikawa D: Late Kofun Period

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Used at burial practices at Japanese tumuli around the pit grave mounds. Made of low-fired clay. Cylindrical theme Artists altered the shapes of the cylinders, decorated them with applied ornaments, and then painted the Haniwa. Represented as a spiritual barrier protecting both the living and the dead from contamination.

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Main hall, Ise shrine, Mie Prefecture. L: Japan D: Kofun Period or later, Rebuilt in 1993

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Shrine of the sun goddess, Amaterasu. Known to be as Shinto Made of wood, fitted together in a mortise-and-tenon system, in which the wallboards were slipped into slots in the pillars. Two posts support the ridgepole, the beam at the crest of the roof. Golden cypress columns and planks contrast in color and texture with the white gravel covering the sacred grounds. This shrine highlights the connection to Shinto, between nature and spirit.

Buddhist Japan : 

Buddhist Japan Asuka (552-645) Early Nara (Hakuho; 645-710) Nara (710-784)

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Horyuji kondo (Golden Hall) L: Nara, Japan D: Early Nara Period, 680

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The image hall housed the major sculptural icons and provided a site of worship and prayer. The image hall, known as the kondo, has a structure that retains its graceful but sturdy forms beneath the modifications. The main pillars decrease in diameter from bottom to top, as in classical architecture. Ceramic tiles were used as roofing materials.

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Shaka Triad L: Horyuji kondo, Nara, Japan D: Asuka Period, 623

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Made of Bronze Made by Tori Busshi Buddha triad (Buddha flanked by two bodhisattvas) Central figure is Shaka. Shaka is presented as achieving a higher state of being. Behind them, a flaming mandorla (a lotus-petal-shaped), bears small figures of other Buddhas. Elongated heads; elegant stylized folds of the drapery.

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Yakushi Triad L: Yakushiji kondo, Nara, Japan D: Early Nara Period, late 7th-early 8th century

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Buddha of Healing presides over the Eastern Pure Land The sculptor favored greater anatomical definition and shape-revealing drapery over the Horyuji statues. Attendant bodhisattvas reveal the long stylistic trail back to China to India’s sensuous fleshiness sculptures. Original gilding was destroyed by fire.

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Amida Triad, wall painting (damaged) L: Horyuji kondo, Nara, Japan D: Early Nara Period, 710

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Amida, the Buddha of immeasurable light and infinite life, ruler of the Western Pure Land, sits enthroned in his land, attended by bodhisattvas. Ink and colors The painting process involved techniques similar to fresco, such as transferring designs from paper to wall by piercing holes in the paper and pushing colored powder through the perforations. Smooth brush lines gives the figures their substance and life. Such lines are known as iron-wire lines because they are thin with a suggestion of tensile strength.

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Daibutsuden (Great Buddha Hall) L:Japan D: Nara Period, 8th century, rebuilt 1700

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Housed a 53-foot bronze image of the Cosmic Buddha, Roshana. Commissioned by Emperor Shomu in 743, which was part of an imperial attempt to unify and strengthen the country. Served as the administrative center of a network of branch temples built in every province.

Heian Period (794-1185) : 

Heian Period (794-1185)

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Taizokai (Womb World) Of Ryokai Mandara L: Kyoto, Japan D: Early Heian Period, second half of 9th century

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Hanging scroll, color on silk Mandara: A diagram of the cosmic universe Usually hung on the wall of a Shingon kondo. The Womb World is composed of 12 zones, each representing one of the various dimensions of Buddha nature (universal knowledge, wisdom, etc).

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Phoenix Hall L: Byodoin, Uji, Japan D: Heian Period, 1053

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Temple built by Fujiwara Yorimichi in memory of his father Michinaga. Houses a wooden statue of Amida carved from multiple joined blocks Building's winged form evokes images of the Buddha’s palace in his Pure Land. By placing only light pillars on the exterior, elevating the wings, and situating the whole on a reflective pond, there is a floating weightlessness of a celestial architecture. Building’s name is from its overall birdlike shape and from two bronze phoenixes decorating the ridgepole ends.

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Scene from Minori chapter, Tale of Genji L: Goto Art Museum, Tokyo D: Late Heian Period, first half of 12th century

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Handscroll, ink and color on paper. Tale of Genji was written around 1000 by Murasaki Shikubu. It provides a story about the lives and loves of Prince Genji and his descendants. Genji meets with his greatest love near the time of her death. The bush-clover in the garden identifies the season as autumn, the season with the fading of life and love. Upturned ground plane and strong diagonal lines suggest 3-D space. Native subjects, bright mineral pigments, lack of emphasis on strong brushwork, and general flatness were considered as yamato-e (Japanese related).

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Detail of the Flying Storehouse, from The Legends of Mount Shigi L: Chogosonshiji, Nara D: Late Heian Period, Late 12th century

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Handscroll, ink and colors on paper Represented a different kind of Handscroll painting. The stories belong to a genre of Buddhist tales devoted to miraculous events involving virtuous individuals. Several scenes in a long, unbroken stretch. Illustrates three miracles associated with a Buddhist monk named Myoren and his mountaintop temple. Depicts the astonished landowner, his attendants, and several onlookers in various poses. The artist exaggerated each feature of the painted figures.

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Edo Period (1615 – 1868) • In 1615, shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu consolidated power and established a new shogunate that lasted until 1868. • Edo (modern Tokyo)

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• Eastern facade of Katsura Imperial Villa, Kyoto, Japan. • 1620-1663 • Edo period

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• A variety of textures (stone, wood, tile, and plaster) and subdued colors and tonal values enrich the villa’s lines, planes, and volumes. • The rooms are not large • Sliding doors

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The Rimpa School • different in nature from the Kano and Tosa Schools • focused on literary themes favored by the nobility • Rimpa works are characterized by vivid color and extensive use of gold and silver, and often incorporated decorative patterns. • its ostensible founder: Ogata Korin

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HONAMI KOETSU • Boat Bridge, writing box, early 17th century. Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo. • Edo period • Lacquered wood with sprinkled gold and inlay. • exhibits designs drawn from a poem about the boat bridge at Sano, in the Eastern provinces.

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• The bridge itself, a dull metal inlay, forms a band across the lid’s convex surface. • shows the dramatic contrasts of form, texture, and color that mark Rimpa aesthetics, especially the combination of the bridge’s dull metal inlay and the brilliant gold surface. • The gold decoration comes from careful sprinkling of actual gold dust in wet lacquer.

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• Tarashikomi – the dropping of ink and pigments onto surfaces still wet with previously applied ink and pigments.

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YOSA BUSON • Cuckoo Flying over New Verdure, late 18th century. • Edo period • Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk. • a master writer of haiku • haiku – the 17-syllable Japanese poetic form

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• reveals his fully mature style • incorporated basic elements of Chinese and Japanese literati style by rounding the landscape forms and rendering their soft texture in fine fibrous brush strokes, and by including dense foliage patterns.

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Japanese Woodblock Prints • Rapid developments in the printing industry led to the availability of numerous books and printed images. • ukiyo-e – pictures of the floating world • planks of fine-grained hardwood, usually cherry • ukiyo-e printmakers seem to have all been men • came to be associated with the constantly changing nature of the temporal world of sensual pleasures and entertainment.

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SUZUKI HARUNOBU • Evening Bell at the Clock, from Eight Views of the Parlor series, ca. 1765. Woodblock print. • Edo period • Harunobu played a key role in developing multicolored prints (nishiki-e). • These pictures were printed on the best-quality paper sing costly pigments and were highly valued.

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• beautiful young women and the activities that occupy their daily lives became the subject. • two young women sit on a veranda • one appears to be drying herself after a bath, while the other turns to face the chiming clock. • incorporates the refined techniques characteristic of nishiki-e. • the flatness of the depicted objects and the rich color recall the traditions of court painting

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KATSUSHIKA HOKUSAI • The Great Wave off Kanagawa, from Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji series, ca. 1826-1833. • Woodblock print oban, ink and colors on paper. • Edo period

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• Also engages the Japanese pictorial tradition • The whitecaps’ ominous fingers magnify the wave’s threatening aspect. • Hokusai placed the wave’s more traditionally flat and powerfully graphic forms in the foreground.

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The Meiji and Taisho Periods (1868 – 1926) • In 1868, the Edo period and the rule of the shogun ended. • Meiji – Enlightened Rule

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TAKAHASHI YUICHI • Oiran (Grand Courtesan), 1872. Oil on canvas. Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Tokyo. • Meiji period • oil painting became a major genre in Japan nostalgic

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• Takahashi created it for a client homesick for vanishing elements of Japanese culture. • He did not portray the courtesan’s features in the idealizing manner of ukiyo-e artists but in the more logical manner of Western portraiture. • The painter’s more abstract tendering of the garments reflects a very old practice in East Asian portraiture.

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YOKOYAMA TAIKAN • Kutsugen, Itsukushima Shrine, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, 1898. Hanging scroll, color on silk. • Meiji period • nihonga (Japanese painting) opposed to yoga (Western painting)

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• combines a low horizon line and subtle shading effects taken from Western painting with East Asian techniques • employed strong ink brushwork to define its contours • applied washes of water-and-glue—based pigments • used applications of heavy mineral pigments • the painting’s subject: a Chinese poet who fell out of the emperor’s favor and committed suicide • It provided a nice analogy to a real-life situation.

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The Showa and Heisei Periods (1926 – Present)

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TANGE KENZO • national indoor Olympic stadiums, Tokyo, Japan, 1961-1964. • Showa period • Kenzo was one of the most daringly experimental architects of the post – World War II period.

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• employed a cable suspension system that allowed him to shape steel and concrete into remarkably graceful structures. • his attention to both the sculptural qualities of each building’s raw concrete form and the fluidity of its spaces allies him with architects worldwide.

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HAMADA SHOJI • large bowl, 1962. National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto. • Black trails on translucent glaze. • Another Japanese art form is ceramics. • Works such as his dish with casual slip designs are unsigned, but are easily recognized by connoisseurs.

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• Such stoneware is coarser, darker, and heavier than porcelain and lacks the latter’s fine decoration.

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TSUCHIYA KIMIO • Symptom, 1987. Installation view, Jeune Sculpture ‘87, Paris 1987. • Branches or driftwood.

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• Tsuchiya’s works assert the life forces found in natural materials. • he has internalized Shinto principles • His goal was “to bring out and present the life of nature emanating from this energy of trees.”