The Art of Japan 10.3 The Art of Japan • Japan owed a debt of gratitude to China for its initial artistic development. • However Japan produced an abundance of paintings, sculpture, and architecture that was uniquely its own. • The first traces of Japanese art date to a culture known as the Jomon (c. 12,000-300BC) Early Development of Japanese Art • The earliest artworks consist mainly of simple, undecorated vessels, figures, and animals made of red clay. • Many clay figures and animals have been found surrounding burial mounds which suggest they were put there to ward off evil spirits and protect the dead. Introduction of Buddhism • In A.D. 552, the ruler of a kingdom in Korea sent a gilt bronze figure of the Buddha to the emperor of Japan. • Along with the sculpture came Buddhist writings and missionaries. This is how Buddhism was introduced to Japan. • At first there was resistance to the new religion, particularly among those that remained faithful to Shinto, the indigenous religion to Japan. • Eventually Buddhism became firmly established and came to affect every aspect of Japanese culture. Temple Construction • In the year 594, the empress Shiko ordered the Buddhist temples be built throughout her kingdom. • Architects, wood-carvers, bronze workers, weavers and other skilled artists came from Korea to build and decorate the temples that soon filled the countryside. • Similar to temples in China but more richly decorated and more delicately assembled. • Because Japan is formed of volcanic rock, there was little hard stone suitable for building so they used wood. • Japanese builders made the practice of constructing wooden buildings in to an art form. These buildings had to be well designed to withstand frequent earthquakes and violent storms that plague the island. Pagoda The Temple of Horyuji • Among the greatest architectural achievements in Japan was the temple complex at Horyuji. The temple was constructed on a square plan surrounded by a double wall. • Inside the complex were a number of buildings: the main hall containing sculpture of the Buddha, a lecture hall, a library, and a bell tower. • In addition there were two pagodas. These structures contain sacred relics. Pagoda – a tower several stories high with roofs slightly curved upward at the edges. • Amazingly one of the wooden pagodas has survived countless earthquakes and has outlasted most stone structure from that time. • Today it stands as the oldest wooden structure in the world. The Treasures of Todaiji • Erected by the emperor Shomu in 752. • 4 years after the temple was constructed the emperor died. • Not long after his death, his widow, the empress Komoyo, presented the treasures of his court to the great Buddha enshrined at Todaij. • As a result, no less than 10,000 works of eighteenth century Japanese art was preserved. Historical Buddha Preaching on Vulture Peak Eighth Century AD Artist Unknown Ink, Color, and Gold on Hemp 42x56inches • Among the artworks preserved at Todaiji is a painting on hemp regarded as one of the temple’s greatest treasures. • It shows the Buddha surrounded by Bodhisattvas, preaching in the mountains. • Although it has been retouched this painting still testifies the quality of eighth century Buddhist paintings. The Heian Period • In 784, Heian was made capital city of Japan. • The Heian Period is regarded as a golden age in Japanese art. • During the next 400 years numerous temples and monasteries were built. • In addition, members of the royal court and the heads of great families commissioned painters to create works of art. The Yamato-e Style • Contacts with China continued until 898 when ties were broken as a consequence of internal strife in Japan. • No longer able to draw inspiration from China, Japanese artists developed their own unique style of painting called, Yamato-e. • Yamato-e = painting in the Japanese style • Paintings done in this style were the first true examples of Japanese art. • Usually scenes of daily life The Kamakura Period • A series of civil wars prompted by corrupt governments brought an end to the Heian Period in 1185. • Clan leaders waged war with one another until one leader Minamoto Yorimoto, was able to establish a military government at Kamakura. • A succession of military rulers assumed control over various parts of the country for the next 148 years. • These rulers recognized the emperor as little more than a powerless figurehead. Giant Buddha Kamakura, Japan Bronze Sculpture C. 1252AD • A long tradition of creating colossal sculptures continued during this period with such works as the Giant Buddha. • Cast in Bronze • Example of exact symmetrical balance: the two sides mirror each other. • Today the sculpture sits outdoors surrounded by grove of trees and shows the Buddha in quiet contemplation. The Burning of the Sanjo Palace Kamakura Period Hand scroll Ink and Colors on Paper 16x133in. • Paintings is the most interesting visual art form of the Kamakura period. • Advances made in the Yamato-e style reflected the artistic tastes of the new military leaders, who preferred paintings that stressed realism and action. • Nowhere is the realism and action more apparent than in the hand scroll of The Burning Sanjo Palace. The Burning of the Sanjo Palace Kamakura Period Hand scroll Ink and Colors on Paper • This scroll illustrates with shocking realism a revolt that took place on the night of Dec. 9, 1159. • On that tragic night, the Snajo Palace was attacked and the emperor taken prisoner. • Unrolling the scroll from right to left is immediately swept up in the frantic scene. • As the scroll is unrolled further, the viewer is led at less frantic pace through swarms of soldiers, horses, and carts. • Finally at the very end of the scroll-nearly 23 feet long, the powerful narrative comes to a quiet end. The Burning of the Sanjo Palace Kamakura Period Hand scroll Ink and Colors on Paper • Noblemen and their servants arrive at the palace after hearing of the attack, but they are too late. • The palace in engulfed in flame. • Warriors surround the palace. • Within the palace itself, the horrors of war are presented in graphic and frightening detail: palace guards are beheaded, loyal attendants are hunted down and killed, and ladies in waiting are trampled beneath the hooves of horses. • The view finds the final warrior taking control of his rearing horse. • A single archer is the final, quiet figure signaling an end to this story of frantic action. The Rise of Zen Buddhism and the Fall of the Kamakura Rulers • During the Kamakura period, new Buddhist sects were formed. One of these , the Zen sect, which was introduced from China, had an important impact on later Japanese art. • The power of the Kamakura military rulers ended in 1333. • To their great shame, this loss did not come on the battlefield but rather, like their predecessors, they too became corrupted by power. Civil war again broke out continued until 1573. • Somehow the arts managed to flourish during a period of almost continuous unrest and conflict. Zen Buddhism • The growing appeal of Zen Buddhism resulted in the popularity of art forms associated with that religion. • Zen’s appeal may have been due to the fact that it offered people an escape from the chaos that marked daily life. • A desire to escape reality may have motivated artists as well. • For example when the artist, Soami Kanguaku Shinso (sooah-mee kahn-gah-koo sheen-soh) took up ink and paper to create a design for a screen, he choose as his subject a peaceful lanscape. Landscape of the Four Seasons: Fall and Winter Soami Kanguaku Shinso Six-Fold Screen Ink on Paper Landscape of the Four Seasons: Fall and Winter Soami Kanguaku Shinso Six-Fold Screen Ink on Paper • His finished paintings were mounted on two screens illustrating the four seasons. • Reading from right to left in the same manner as a hand scroll, the paintings were intended to draw viewers gently into an imaginary world of beauty and peace in which they could forget the real world of unrest and fear. • The same quest for beauty and peace was undertaken by architects. The result can be seen in carefully proportioned pavilions set in the midst of a splendid garden. The Momoyama Period • Marked by a succession of three dictators, or shoguns, finally restored unity and brought peace to the troubled land. • During this era, huge palaces were built that served two purposes: • Protective fortress • Symbol of Power • Inside these structures, sliding doors and large screens were decorated with gold leaf and delicate painting. Hiroshima Palace The Rich Era of Japanese Art • In 1615 Iyeyasu Tokugawa overwhelmed the forces of rival military leaders in a battle that left 40,000 dead. • Victory enabled him to build a new capital at Edo (the modern day Tokyo) and established the Edo rule, which continued until 1867. • This period represented the longest period of peace and one of the richest eras for art in Japan. • Peace brought about a prosperous middle class. • This new middle class demanded art works that showed the life of the people rendered in new techniques. • Demands such as these lead to the development of the Ukiyo-e style, which means pictures of the passing world. Woodblock Printing • Since painting produced only one picture at a time, artists searched for other ways to satisfy the increased demand for art. • A solution was found in woodblock printing. • Woodblock Printing – process involving transferring and cutting pictures into wood blocks, inking the surface of the block, and then printing. • Using this process an artist could produce as many inexpensive prints as needed. • Prints originally were made with black ink on white paper. If color was desired it was added by hand. • Eventually a process for multicolored prints was developed. Woodblock Prints A Women Dancer Torii Kiyonobu A Women Admiring Plum Blossoms Suzuki Harunobu Woodblock Prints The Great Wave Katsushika Hokusai Vocab and Quiz Review • Woodblock Printing – process involving transferring and cutting pictures into wood blocks, inking the surface of the block, and then printing. • Ukiyo-e style, which means pictures of the passing world • Yamato-e = painting in the Japanese style • Pagoda – a tower several stories high with roofs slightly curved upward at the edges.