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Japanese Art

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Japanese Art Essay, Research Paper

Japan?s Art, all thought sometimes over looked has evolved through many

different periods. Its simplest forms in the Archaic period and last on its more complex

period the Ego Period. Even though some skeptics believe that Japanese art can not

compare to the art of the Greeks or Romans. Japanese Art yet simple is refreshing and

has left Japan with wonderful shrines, paintings and traditions. The periods of Japanese

art are the Archaic, Ask, Heian, Kamakura, Askikaga and the Ego periods. Each

Period has taken Japan to a new level of art.

Starting with the Archaic period, Japan was a prehistoric society where its art

consisted of well crafted vessels, vases, and tools. Most vessels and vases were

constructed to look like they were surrounded in rope but in reality it was part of the

ceramic and clay pieces. They lived in pit dwellings with thatched roofs on bamboo

stilts. The Japanese did however build shrines in this period. These shrines were

consisted of many buildings and were concentrated around a central axis. The

symmetrical system was off set by a gate and a building were only the deity could dwell.

The most famous of these Shrines is the Ise Shrine. This shrine is 55 yards by 127 yards

and is completely fenced in. The Shrine is also made entirely out of wood! With the

building of shrines the Japanese moved into a new period, the Asuka period. The

religion of the people changed to Buddhism which also changed the focus of art. Bronze

sculptures of religious figures (Buddha) sprang up. This period was very short lived.

Still changing though Japan moves into the Heian Period. The Heian period

began at the beginning of the ninth century. The Japanese weren?t just practicing

Buddhism, they were practicing Esoteric Buddhism. Japan also stopped communication

with China, so the Japanese art wasn?t influenced by China. Paintings began to take over

the frames, the scenes were viewed from elevation and dull colors and flat surfaces

where used. This style was known as Yamato-e. Yamato-e was greatly used for the

illustration of stories. This style was cold and lifeless. But things began to look up

towards the end of the period. Towards the end of the period the dull large paintings

were replaced with pictures full of curves, grace and most importantly color.

The Japanese Art always changing and expanding mostly because of the

influence of the rulers. At the beginning of the Kamakura period a new ruler took over

Japan. In this period Artists emphasized on realism! The realism was so life like even

the simplest of details was expressed. Also a more advanced Yamato-e style was

developed with more color and softer lines. Also with realism came a type of formalized

religious art where the figures of Buddha became more uniformed. Yet, civil unrest lead

to another change of rulers.

And with this change of rulers came the Ashikaga period. Communication with

China was restored and once again China had a huge impact on Japanese Art. Yamato-e

which was developed while China and Japan were unable to communicate was

diminished and hardly used. But Japan did begin to develop the Tea Ceremony. The Tea

ceremony was taken from China but Japan adopted this ceremony and made it there own

and added much grace and poise to the event. One author said the purpose of a tea

ceremony “is to produce courtesy, politeness, modesty, moderation, calmness, peace of

body and soul, without pride or arrogance, fleeing from all ostentation, pomp, external

grandeur, and the magnificence.” Basically, a kind of get away from the real world and

place of calmness and tranquillity. In Japan No two tea houses are alike, they harbor the

same philosophies and the same tradition but each on is unique, one theme that is the

same throughout all teas houses is the representation of the love of nature. China may

have started the tea ceremony but Japan embraced it, added to it and made it their own,

and still today it is practiced.

And last but certainly not least the Ego Period the period which brings us from

the end of the Ashikaga period to the present. I find that Japanese art today is very flat

and very symmetrical and balanced. For someone who likes order and balance in life

would certainly go for this kind of art, very clear and crisp! Still today, the Shrines are

being re-built the Ice Shines has be re-built sixty times, its amazing to keep up with

something for that amount of time. But it still stands today. Just like Japanese Art,

maybe it didn?t make a huge impact on the world as a whole but it still survives today


Kleiner Fred and Richard Tansey, Gardner?s Art through the Ages 10th ed.

Harcourt Brace College Publishers. Orlando 1996

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