The Art of Early Japan 10,500 BCE to 1332 CE
Map of Japan • The Japanese islands are very close to China and Korea. • Many of the ideas and traditions of these countries were adopted by Japan. • Especially Buddhism!!
The Jomon Period (ca. 10,500 – 300 BCE) • Japan’s earliest distinct culture • Jomon means “chord markings” • Hunter- Gatherer society • NOT nomadic lived in villages • Pottery! • Modeled Earthenware • Rope markings, incised lines, coils of clay • So sculptural that sometimes the function was useless • Mostly used for storage and food preparation
Vessel Miyanomae, Nagano Prefecture, Japan Middle Jomon Period, 2500 – 1500 BCE Earthenware 1’ 11 2/3” high 1’ 1 ¼” wide
The Yayoi Period (ca. 300 B.C.E. – 300 CE) • There was increased interaction with Korea and China. • The Dotaku (bells) were the major art form of this period. • Cast in clay mold, Bronze, 1’ 4 7/8’’ high • After some time their use shifted from musical to ceremonial bronzes.
Dotaku (bell) with incised figural motifs, from Kagawa Prefecture, Japan, late Yayoi period, 100-300. Bronze, 1’ 4 7/8” high. Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo.
The Kofun Period (ca. 330 – 552 CE) • This era was named after the Tumuli (pit grave with a mound on top) created during it. • Recalls early Jomon practices of placing the dead on sacred mountains. • Burial mounds most likely initially built by a horse-riding people from Korea • Ko means “old” and fun means “tomb” so Kofun means “old tomb”!
Tomb of Emperor Nintoku. Sakai, Osaka Prefecture, Japan, Kofun Period, late fourth to early fifth century. 458 acre tumuli
More kofun!! • This Era also contains Haniwa sculptures. • Hani means “clay” and wa means “circle” so these sculptures were cylindrical in nature. • There were also shrines built to the Shinto faith in this time, such as Ise Shrine in the Mie Prefecture of Japan.
Haniwa (cylindrical) warrior figure, from Gunma Prefecture, Japan, late Kofun period, fifth to mid-sixth century. Low-fired clay, 4’ 1 ¼” high. Aikawa Archaeological Museum, Aikawa.
Asuka Period Started when the ruler of Paekche; one of Korea’s three kingdoms, gave a gilded bronze statue of Buddha to the ruler of Japan. Sutras translated into Chinese were also given. A sutra is Buddhist scriptures. This period symbolizes Japan’s acceptance and influence from neighboring cultures Some of the components that they inhabited include Chinese writing, Buddhism, and Confucianism. In the year 710 Japan established it’s capital as Heijo, which is present day Nara. The capital was modeled after the Chinese capital of Chang’an. Nara remained the capital of Japan until 784. Heiankyo became the capital of Japan in 794.
The Heian Period (ca. 794 – 1185 CE) • Capital moved north to Heiankyo (modern day Kyoto) • Relations with China deteriorate • Exoteric Buddhism develops • Shingon (True Word) Buddhism = anyone can achieve enlightenment through contemplation & ritual • use the following to aid focus during meditation • mudras – special hand gestures • mantras – particular words or syllables • Art focuses on transcendental concepts of Buddhism
Taizokai (World Womb) of Ryokai Mandara Kyoogokokuji (Toji), Kyoto, Japan Early Heian Period, 2nd half of 9th century. Hanging scroll, color on silk, 6’ x 5’ 5/8”
Scene from Minori chapter, Tale of Genji Late Heian period, first half of 12th century Handscroll, ink and color on paper 8 5/8” high Goto Art Museum, Tokyo.
Detail of the Flying Storehouse, from The Legends of Mount Shigi Late Heian period, late 12th century Handscroll, ink and colors on paper, 1’ ½” high Chogosonshiji, Nara
Kamakura Period1185 – 1332 CE • End of Japanese imperial court • Emergence of shogunate (military gov’t) in Kamakura, Japan • Chinese influence • Heian period painting types remain strong • Pure Land Buddhism emerges • Appealing to the poor • Amida (major figure in Pure Land Buddhism) helps believers pass into Pure Land after death
Detail of the priest ShunjoboChogen Painted cypress wood; Portrait statue; Naturalism, finely painted details, signs of aging, inclusion of personal attributes; Exhibits carving skill and style of Kei school of sculptors; Inlaid rock crystals used for eyes;
The Burning of the Sanjo Palace Handscroll, ink and colors on paper; Narrative, illustrating battles in civil wars at end of Heian period, read left to right; Staccato brushwork, vivid flashes of color; Deceptive cadence: false ending;
Amida Descending over the Mountains Hanging scroll, ink and colors on silk;