Lacquer Ware Decoration
From:@JAANUS - Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System
Literally "lacquer coating." Lacquer ware is also called shikki (lacquer ware) or nurimono (coated things). Japanese lacquer is a highly toxic nonresinous sap from the Rhus verniciflua tree (the same genus of poison ivy and poison oak) which hardens rather than dries. The poisonous aspect of the medium generally limits its use to special artisans. Lacquer construction has three stages : kiji, or forming the base, body, or core of wood or sometimes basketry, leather and paper ; application of lacquer coatings to seal and protect the object; and decoration of the surface. Application of urushi differs regionally, but there are three basic types of lacquer coats: undercoats shitaji, middle coats naka-nuri, and final coats uwa-nuri. Some styles omit the nakanuri, while the final coat always uses the most highly refined lacquer because this is the surface which is decorated. In gold decoration makie, the final coat is a high-gloss, transparent lacquer rouiro. In Japan red-and-black-lacquered earhenware pots date from ca. 4500 BC. After 1599 systems for culivating lacquer trees and improving lacquering techniques were developed. In the 18c, colored lacquers and makie became widespread.
There are several basic lacquer techniques, but decorative techniques are numerous. Ikkanbari, also called harinuki, is a paper-based lacquer used for teawares. Layers of lacquer-glued paper are applied to the interior of a mold and coated with lacquer when removed from the mold. Hirai Ikkan (1578-1657), a naturalized Chinese reportedly invented the technique in the Kan'ei era (1624-44) when he became lacquer master to Sen Soutan (1578-1658). Iro-urushi is a multi-colored lacquer in which ganryou (pigments) are mixed into suki-urushi (clear lacquer). Traditionally only five natural pigments (red, black, yellow, green and brown) were used, but since the Meiji period white and neutral tints were made chemically. Shunkei-nuri is a technique of applying transparent urushi over wood grain so the natural wood pattern shows through. Popular in the 17c, it was reportedly invented by a 14c lacquermaster named Shunkei. A variety of lacquer types evolved in regional production centers. Negoro-nuri was made at Negoroji in Wakayama prefecture. The red surface wears to reveal the underlying black; this effect was later deliberately imitated. Tsugaru-nuri is made in Tsugaru, Aomori prefecture. Muliple layers of colored lacquer (usually green, red, yellow and brown) produce a spotted-marbled effect. The technique reportedly was used first in 1685 by Ikeda Gentarou, the son of lacquer master Ikeda Genbee. Aizu-nuri has been made in the Aizu area of Fukushima prefecture from the late 16c, with peak output in 1878. There are two methods of priming. In the shibushitaji process, lamp black is mixed with persimmon tannin and applied as a primer then burnished when dry ; or persimmon tannin is applied alone, and burnished, before lacquer is applied. In the sabishitaji technique a clay-like primer is applied and burnished when hard. A lacquer undercoat follows the sabi and, after burnishing, intermediate and final coats are applied. The Aizu region also developed chinkin, incising a design into the lacquer surface, then applying a thin layer of lacquer and applying gold dust or gold foil to the tacky lacquer. Jouhana-nuri, also called jouhana makie (jigoemon-nuri), was developed in Jouhana in Toyama prefecture by Hata Jigoemon and Hata Tokuzaemon in the early 17c. It uses techniques of mitsuda-e and keifun-makie and has a white color. In ‚—akasa-nuri, made since ca. 1660 at Wakasa in Fukui prefecture, layers of different colored lacquers are applied to a ground roughened by the addition of pieces of egg shell or rice chaff. Thin gold or silver foil is pressed into the indentations and a coating of transparent lacquer is applied then polished to make a smooth surface. Kuroe-nuri, also called kainan shikki , is made in Kuroe, Kainan city, Wakayama prefecture. In 1826, professional lacquer craftmen were invited to Osaka; in the Ansei era (1854-60) makie was introduced; in 1879 the chinkinbori (lacquer ware inlaid with gold) technique was introduced by Kyoto craftsmen.
1@Painting done with colored lacquer iro-urushi, made by mixing pigments in a base of transparent lacquer suki-urusi. Until the Edo period, five colors - red, black, yellow, green, and light brown - were available through the use of natural pigments. White lacquer was not produced until the mid 19c. One extant example of urushi-e dates back to the early Joumon period: a fragment of earthenware decorated with a simple pattern in red lacquer was found in the Torihama shellmound kaizuka, in Fukui prefecture. The decoration on the Tamamushi miniature shrine, Tamamushi no zushi (mid-7c) in Houryuuji , Nara, is thought to be done by mixed techniques of urushi-e and mitsuda-e . From the Nara period, painting in red lacquer against a black background was favored by aristocrats for lacquered wood utensils and furniture. Around the Momoyama period (16c) daily and ceremonial lacquerware decorated with colorful urushi-e or mitsuda-e became very popular. Complicated designs of flowers, birds, animals, and scenes from old stories were depicted and often made more decorative by using gold powders sunago and gold leafkimpaku. Local traditions of painted lacquerware continue in many areas today.

2@A type of early hand-colored ukiyo-e‚ woodblock print. Animal collagen glue nikawa was added to black ink sumi to give a lustrous appearance, which was reminiscent of black lacquer. It was used primarily for hairstyles and costume details such as obi. In part to balance the strong black areas, other colors were made brighter. Bronze or brass powder as well as fine mica flakes ummo were sometimes sprinkled onto these prints. Urushi-e was used primarily in the Kyouhou era (1716-36), and in the Kampou era (1741-44), but can be seen as late as 1764 on large works. The technique appears on the prints of artists such as Okumura Masanobu (1686-1764), Nishimura Shigenaga (1697?-1756) and the Torii school Toriiha masters Torii Kiyonobu (1664-1729) and Kiyomasu (fl.c.1696-1716).
Lit. pictures of the floating world. Paintings and woodblock prints of genre themes developed from late 17c to late 19c (mid-Edo to early Meiji periods), supported by the people in the middle class of society shomin, or ("common people") mainly in the city of Edo. Because of this locality, ukiyo-e was also called edo-e or azuma-e, (lit. eastern pictures), during the Edo period. In the broader sense of the term, however, ukiyo-e includes various local paintings appreciated by common people in the Edo period all over Japan, such as ootsu-e (comical, folk painting produced in Ootsu, Shiga prefecture), nagasaki hanga (woodblock prints depicting foreign people and objects seen in Nagasaki, Nagasaki prefecture), and kamigata-e (woodblock prints) produced in the Kyoto-Osaka area kamigata, mostly portrayals of the kabuki (actors popular there).
The term ukiyo-e, which is first found in literature during the first half of the 1680's, derives from the fact that they depict the activities of a transient ("floating"), but therefore enjoyable world. Pictures of beautiful women bijinga and young boys, particularly the courtesans of the pleasure quarters yuujo, scenes from kabuki plays shibai-e and portraits of popular actors yakusha-e, and pornographic pictures shunga are the three major subjects of ukiyo-e. Literary themes taken from poems and stories from Japan and China were also popular, pictures of heroic warriors musha-e being particularly favoured throughout the period. Often the classic themes were parodied or represented in mundane, contemporary circumstances.
Ukiyo-e were mass-produced in order to fulfill a great demand among middle-class people, who were their major appreciators. Therefore, the principal form of ukiyo-e were woodblock prints, which were planned by the publisher hanmoto and produced in collaboration with the painter/designer eshi, carver horishi and printer surishi. Even hand-paintings nikuhitsuga were produced in large quantities in workshops under the direction of a master artist who designed the product, supervised its coloring by his pupils and signed them . Because of the vagaries of this studio system several versions of the same painting with slight differences often exist in ukiyo-e.
Art historically, ukiyo-e is placed at the end of the development of kinseishoki fuuzokuga (genre painting of the Early Modern period). Although early ukiyo-e artists signed themselves as painters of yamato-e suggesting that ukiyo-e succeeded the tradition of native Japanese paintings, the influence of various pictorial styles of the period, including that of the Kanouha, Tosaha, youfuuga (western style painting) and shaseiga (realistic painting), can be found in ukiyo-e . The history of ukiyo-e can be devided into three periods.
Period 1) Meireki to Houreki eras (1655-1764)
prints derived from book illustrations. Book publishing had been popular in the kamigata (Kyoto-Osaka) area already in the early 17c, but after the disastrous fire of 1657, books began to be published in Edo. The proportion of illustrations in a book became bigger and bigger, and at last the texts became only one fifth of a whole page. The next step was for illustrations to become independent of the text and appreciated for themselves. Like Hishikawa Moronobu's (?-1694) "Scenes of Yoshiwara" Yoshiwara no tai, they typically consisted of a set kumimono of twelve prints, which mostly depicted scenes from popular stories or pornography. Ukiyo-e is generally thought to have originated with Moronobu, who declared in the preface of the book he illustrated, "Monthly Amusements" Tsukinami no Asobi (1683), that he invented "ukiyo-e" and became a leading painter. Around 1700, single-sheet woodblock prints ichimai-e began to be sold alone and became the dominant form in Edo. To begin with the prints were all in black sumi, sumizuri-e , with occasional hand colouring fudezaishiki (lit. brush coloring) added separately. Very strong, orange-red tan, or "lead-red" and in some cases green were boldly applied to the drawings with strong, wavy lines in tan-e .
Moronobu's paintings of beauties and/or of the pleasure quarters were succeeded by the work of artists of the Kaigetsudou school Kaigetsudouha which lasted for only about a generation. At the same time the artists of the Torii school Toriiha, which is still in existance today took in a monopoly in kabuki theatrical posters and actor prints. Torii Kiyonobu (1664-1729) and Kiyomasu (act. early 18c) invented a unique manner with strong stylisation in tan-e for depicting kabuki actors, and established the Torii school.
In the first half of 18c, beni-e became prominent, lit. vermillion painting, in which lighter, rose-red paint/ink made of safflowers beni and light green kusajiru (lit. grass sap,) were more meticulously applied on more sophisticated drawings with thinner lines. In order to give an accent to prints that were otherwise too simple, hair and obi belts, etc. were often highlighted with dark, glossy black, made by adding nikawa glue to sumi, in urushi-e ("lacquer painting" because of the gloss). In 1774, with the invention of kentou, color impressions irohan began to be added to the keyblock impression omohan in sumi. Because rose-red and grass-green were the primary colors, they were called benizuri-e. Okumura Masanobu (1686-1764), who produced excellent beni prints during this period, was an innovative artist with many new ideas, such as a triptych with a continuous composition soroimono, in long vertical format to be hung a pillar hashira-e, as well as uki-e, lit. floating pictures, a print characterised by experimental application with an exaggerrated use of western perspective.
Period 2) Meiwa to Kansei ­ eras (1764-1801)
The latter half of 18c is considered to be the classical period of ukiyo-e in terms of artistic quality. The technique of ukiyo-e prints reached its peak when multi-colored woodblock prints nishiki-e (lit. brocade pictures) were produced for extravagant calendars (e-goyomi, lit. painting calendar,) by Suzuki Harunobu (1725-70) in 1765. Harunobu's lovely, doll-like figures in classical and/or poetic settings (often in mitate-e) were replaced by slender ladies in contemporary settings as painted by Torii Kiyonaga (1752-1815) in the 1780's. Kiyonaga's beauties are often in groups, and painted on a set of two or three sheets of paper with a continuous composition. Kitagawa Utamaro (1754-1806) was the most popular painter of beauties in the 1790's. He depicted not only courtesans but also ordinary women, often as a bust ookubi-e, and successfully depicted the inner emotions of the ladies depicted by their subtle expressions and gestures.
Prints of kabuki actors were still produced by Torii school artists, and their formal style became a standard. In 1770's, Katsukawa Shunshou (1726-92) created more realistic portraits nigao-e (lit. likeness painting) of actors, which have been popular ever since. In 1794, Utagawa Toyokuni (1769-1825) published a series of "full-length portraits of actors" Yakusha butai no sugata-e . His eclectic style depicting the dramatic postures of actors became extremely successful and eventually led to the establishment of the Utagawaha, the dominant ukiyo-e school in 19c. On the other hand, Toushuusai Sharaku (act. 1794) published a series of close-up portraits ookubi-e of actors in May 1794. His extremely realistic works seemed sensational at that time, but his style may have been too radical for ordinary people, and ten months later his name suddenly disappeared from the records.
Period 3) Kyouwa to Keiou eras (1801-68)
After 1800, ukiyo-e prints were produed in much larger quantities with wider variations of themes, such as landscapes, birds and flowers, historical stories and warriors, satiric and/or comical cartoons, in addition to the beauties, actors, and pornography. Pictures designed for toys omocha-e, such as playing cards, kites, etc, are also generally included.
The artists of the Utagawa school were the most prosperous, but their pictures of the beauties and actors became stylized and manneristic. Two of the most well-known masters of landscape prints in this period are Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) and Utagawa Hiroshige (also known as Andou Hiroshige, 1797-1858). Hokusai's well-structured landscapes, represented by the "Thirty-six Views of Mt.Fuji" Fugaku Sanjuurokkei (1831-33), contrast with Hiroshige's intimate views as found in the "Fifty-three Stations on the Toukaidou" Toukaidou Gojuusantsugi (1833). Another artist worth noting is Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), who became particularly popular in warrior prints, caricatures, and contemporary townscapes.
The introduction of photography and lithography sekihanga put an end to the innovative developement of ukiyo-e, and Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915) is often thought to be the last true ukiyo-e painter. As interest in ukiyo-e declined in Japan after the Meiji Restoration in 1868, many works were exported while others were simply used as wrapping paper. The art of ukiyo-e woodblock prints underwent great re-evaluation in Europe and America in late 19c to early 20c, and greatly influenced the artistic movements of Impressionism and Art Nouveau.
Lit. "sprinkled picture." A technique which originated in the Heian period for lacquer ware decoration in which designs are made by scattering adhesive metal or color powder in soft lacquer or directly on wood. Commonly used powders are gold, silver, aokin (an alloy of gold and silver), tin, shakudou (an alloy of copper and gold), gunmetal, an alloy of three parts copper to one of silver, brass, lead, aluminum, platinum, pewter, and kanshitsufun (dry-lacquer powder). Paint powders include yasurifun (coarse flakes produced by filing), hiramefun (flattened coarse flakes), nashijifun (fine flakes used for pearskin lacquer decoration), marufun (grain-shaped flakes) and keshifun (frosted gold leaf). Two kinds of soft brushes are used for line drawing and applying the first coat: funzutsu (a bamboo tube with a silk or gauze net for laying powder) and tsumeban (made of water-buffalo horn or tortoise shell for lacquer paint). Also used are the jouban (box table), wide hake brush and hair stick. Techniques are divided into three types. In the togidashi makie (burnished makie) technique popular in the Heian period, after the low relief sprinkled design and ground harden, they are covered in transparent or black lacquer, then polished down with charcoal until the design is flush with the new ground. Togidashi largely replaced the makkinru ––‹àèZ technique in which coarse gold filings were sprinkled over the wet design surface, relacquered, and polished until the design was revealed. Hiramakie (flat makie), introduced in the Kamakura period, features sprinkled powders applied directly on the smooth lacquered surface in very low relief so only the thickness of the final protective lacquer coating is raised above the surface. In takamakie (raised makie), developed in the Muromachi period, metallic powders are applied to soft surface designs built up through a mixture of lacquer and charcoal or clay dust. They are affixed by a protective lacquer coat and polished. Cut metal shapes kirikane and metal nacre, kanagai techniques are often used in conjunction. Shishiai makie or shishiai togidashi makie a combination of the takamakie and togidashimakie techniques, was used frequently in landscapes where such elements as rocks, clouds, or mountains are done in a raised design that slopes gently into a flattened design. Ikakeji a precursor to the fundami technique, is the process through which a ground is made by the heavy sprinkling of gold or silver powder in one coat. Makie application techniques include tsukegaki (drawing with narrow lacquer lines and oversprinkling with gold and silver filings), kakiwari (design motifs are emphasised with liqued lacquer and sprinkled gold and silver, while boarders are left plain), and abisemaki (entire flower petals or leaves are scattered with gold fillings, and then outlines and veins are presented in higher or lower relief). Sprinkling techniques include jimaki (metal filings or pigment are deposited on the background of design motifs), chirimaki (coarse filings of gold or silver are sprinkled over the lacquered surface of an object), heijin (where additional lacquer is applied over chirimaki decoration and then polished away with abrasives after it dries), and ikakeji (a type of jimaki where gold and silver powder is sprinkled densely over the lacquered ground), hirameji (filed and pressed coarse metal flakes are sprinkled over a half-dry lacquer surface, recoated, and finally polished to expose metal flakes), and nashiji. Such techniques as raden (lacquerware with mother-of-pearl inlay), hyoumon (imbedding of shapes cut out from gold, silver or tin sheets) may be used. Makie objects were first made as household goods for court nobles. Soon military leaders became patrons and makie styles evolved to serve new tastes. Nashiji (pear-skin ground), is the name given to two widely-used styles invented in the Kamakura period. In one, large irregular shaped gold flakes are scattered at differing angles in many layers in wet nashiji urushi a highly translucent lacquer that has been tinted orange; a further coating is applied and polishing exposes the flakes to produce an uneven surface texture. It is often used to give a uniformly decorative surface to large but less important areas, such as the insides of drawers or the bottoms of boxes. In the other nashiji technique, a fine metallic powder is sprinkled onto a lacquered surface; when dry, a coat of transparent lacquer is applied and lightly polished. Under the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa (ruled 1449-74), lacquers in the so-called Higashiyama style flourished. Kouami Douchou (1410-78), the first lacquer master linked to specific works, used designs by such contemporary painters as Tosa Mitsunobu (1434-1525), Nouami (1397-1471), and Souami (d. 1525). Kouami and another makie master, Igarashi Shinsai (act mid-15c), started the two earliest schools of lacquer under direct shogunal patronage. The Kouami school Kouamiha continued in a direct line of descent to make lacquer ware for the shogunate until the 19c, typically with designs inspired by master painters of the Kanou school Kanouha. A rival was the Igarashi school Igarashiha founded by Igarashi Shinsai under Ashikaga Yoshimasa and continuing through the 17c. Ryuukyuu shikki made in Okinawa and the Amami Islands, was made from about 1500. Influenced by Chinese lacquer styles, the tsuikin technique derived from ryuukyuu shikki. Tsuikin consisted of making a dough from lacquer solution and colored pigments, rolling this out, punching or cutting this into engraved patterns, and applying to the surface of a lacquered object. In the Momoyama period, a new, ultra-refined style of hiramakie was called koudaiji makie. Associated with the temple Koudaiji Kyoto, it used a black lacquer base decorated in the hiramakie style with e-nashiji (sprinkling coarse flakes of gold over the whole surface or the background space on lacquerware), and harigaki (engraving in lacquer with a needle). In the early Edo period, a special lacquer ware which mixed mother-of-pearl inlay with hiramakie was called nanban makie or nanban shitsugei. Displaying mostly Portuguese or Dutch motifs it is found most often on trunks made for the European export market. In the Edo period, Honnami Kouetsu (1558-1637) and Ogata Kourin (1658-1716) developed their own designs and techniques. At the end of the Edo period, techniques became more complicated, but the quality of materials declined and expression became perfunctory.
Wajima Chinkin
Also called chinkinbori a technique developed in Aizunuri that involves cutting a design into a lacquered surface, applying a thin layer of lacquer into the incised lines, then applying gold foil, gold dust, or colored dust over the soft lacquer to form a contrast with the ground. When the lacquer dries, the gold is cemented into the incised design.
Introduced from China to Japan in the Muromachi period; Wajima lacquerware, wajima chinkin was further developed in the later Edo period. 
Lit. cut-gold.
1@Metal foil, haku generally gold or silver, cut into long, thin strips, or, triangular, square, and lozenge shapes systematically arranged to form lines or a decorative pattern on sculptures and paintings (see kirihaku). Exquisite use of kirikane is often found in the decoration of the robes of Buddhist images. The technique was passed down from Tang China and reached Japan around 7c (Hakuhou period). Kirikane is found on the late 7c "Four Guardian Kings" Shitennou in the Golden Hall, Kondou of Houryuuji and on the 8c "Four Guardian Kings" at Toudaiji . The kirikane technique was popular in the late Heian period (9-12c) for both sculpture and painting. An outstanding example from this period is the 12c painting of Bodhisattava Kokuuzou in the Tokyo National Museum. In the early 13c (Kamakura period) examples of the designs became more delicate and complicated, but often conventional and stylized. Since the mid-13c gold outlines tended to be drawn in gold paint (kindei and thereafter the use of kirikane declined.
2@A decorative technique used on makie (gold and silver applied to lacquer). A thin sheet of metal, generally gold or silver, is cut into squares, rectangles and triangles and affixed with lacquer forming clouds, mist, ground, trees and rocks. This technique was first developed in the Kamakura period and soon became highly prized for its ornate quality.
Lit. cut-foil. A method of ornamentation using gold and/or silver leaf cut haku into different shaped pieces and applied to various surfaces with rice paste or lacquer. The term also applies to cut foil itself. The kirikane technique was developed in the 10c-11c (mid Heian period) and was most commonly used to decorate writing papers, sutras, illustrated handscrolls, e-maki and screens. Different names are given to the various sizes and shapes of kirihaku in accordance with their resemblance to natural objects: large pieces are called ishi or "stones"; fine, long, narrow pieces noge for their resemblance to the tips or 'beards' of pampas grass; smaller square pieces arare "hailstones", or sansho "black pepper"; and the finest ones sunago for their similarity to grains of sand. Those lacking a specific form are called momihaku because they appear rubbed rather than cut. Kirihaku is similar to kirikane but kirihaku is sprinkled over a surface, not deliberately pasted, thus the resultant pattern is irregular and spontaneous.
Lit. foil or leaf. Gold, silver, copper, tin or brass pounded into a thin flat sheet and used for the decoration of art works and craft objects. Gold kinpaku and silver ginpaku were most frequently used. A thin block of metal is wrapped in leather or washi (Japanese paper) and pounded with a wooden or bamboo mallet until it is about 1/10,000 of 1mm in thickness (the Heian/Kamakura examples are thicker). The sheets are then cut into approximately 10cm-squares. Most metal foils are made in Kyoto and Kanazawa. The technique of affixing gold foil to the surface of an object with lacquer or glue nikawa is called kinpakuoshi. The earliest known example of haku in Japan is found on the wall painting of Takamatsuzuka tomb (late 7c-early 8c). During the Nara and Heian periods (7-12c), gold and silver foil were frequently used as decoration on Buddhist paintings and sculptures, as well as on writing paper. In a technique called shippaku gold/silver foil was pressed on top of lacquer applied to wood or to dry lacquer kanshitsu sculpture. Foil cut into small pieces was used to make exquisite designs on the garments of Buddhist deities kirikane and also sprinkled over the surface of writing papers for decoration kirihaku. Sometimes foil was applied to the back of a painting to produce a soft, lusterous sheen on the metal ornaments held by Buddhist deities urahaku. From the Muromachi period, gold foil, which was favoured by the shoguns, was amply used for extravagant architectural decoration, such as Ashikaga Yoshimitsu's (1358-1408) Golden Pavilion, Rokuonji Kinkaku and Toyotomi Hideyoshi's (1536?-98) Golden Teahouse, Kin no chashitsu. Gold foil also was used extensively for interior decoration, and the gold background kinji of paintings on screens and sliding doors kinpeki shouhekiga. Gold/silver foil is also frequently used to decorate craft objects. It is affixed to lacquerware haku-e and pressed onto textiles. Generally gold and silver foil is applied inkin with glue or lacquer, however, during the Momoyama period (16-17c), a variation of this technique using rice paste as a bonding agent became popular (surihaku with embroidery), it is called nuihaku.
A type of foil (kirihaku), usually gold or silver, cut so finely that the pieces are as minute as grains of sand (suna). It is then sprinkled from a bamboo cylinder with small holes at the bottom over a thin layer of glue (nikawa) or lacquer which has been brushed across the areas to be decorated. Since the late Heian period (12c), paintings, lacquerware and sutra or writing papers have been decorated with sunago, which produces a soft but rich effect. The famous "Heike noukyou" sutra is a fine example of this technique and other types of cut-foil application. In paintings sunago is used in place of pigments to represent ground or mist as well as to suggest empty space.

A widely used description term which has carried various nuances in different periods, but generally applied to paintings whose subject matter, format and/or style are considered "Japanese," as opposed to something "foreign," or "Chinese." The term is derived from an ancient name for the Nara area where the earliest Japanese emperors (by the 6c) established the Yamato ‘å˜a court. The earliest documented use of the term yamato-e dates from the late 10c, but it is likely that by the late 9c Heian aristocrats had come to decorate their residences with folding screen byoubu and panel shouji paintings of landscapes with geographic features, seasonal references, or other genre elements that were recognizably Japanese. These secular types of subject matter including meisho-e and tsukinami-e (also shiki-e) were all called yamato-e to distinguish them from paintings with Chinese landscape or genre subject matter which were called kara-e. No large-scale Heian secular painting survives; however, fragmentary evidence of existing records and religious paintings suggest that yamato-e was painted in the same prevailing style as kara-e. Kara-e style was based on the Chinese Six Dynasties or Early Tang expression and techniques, and generally employed bright-colored, opaque pigments with figures clearly outlined and detailed in black sumi ink. In the Heian period small size paintings in handscroll or booklet format with Japanese subject matter were usually termed story illustrations monogatari-e or poetry paintings uta-e not yamato-e. Thus, in its earliest use, yamato-e seems to have referred to subject matter and/or format.
By the 12c, the application of yamato-e broadened with the introduction of ink painting suibokuga by Zen ‘T monks who had come from or studied in Yuan or Ming China. The new ink painting was clearly Chinese and was therefore given the name kara-e (or later kanga). With this change in the definition of kara-e came a change in the definition of yamato-e. During the middle ages yamato-e came to mean any painting in the tradition of the brightly colored style favored by the Heian court in any format (handscrolls included) regardless of subject matter.
Ink-painting flourished because of its connection with the Zen establishment, particularly among the warrior ruling classes. The new conservative style of yamato-e was favored by the court and aristocracy as a means of preserving the remnants of their power and cultural prestige. The aristocracy perpetuated the old rituals by both practising and patronizing the courtly arts of Japanese-style poetry and Japanese-style calligraphy, both of which are inextricably linked with yamato-e. The painters at the official atelier edokoro were therefore given great incentive to continue working in the yamato-e style. Their subjects came from the waka (Japanese poetry) anthologies, or the great tales of courtly romance and history in such works as GENJI MONOGATARI (The Tale of Genji), or HEIKE MONOGATARI (The Tale of The Heike), which often recalled the golden past of the court. Often these themes were imbued with a Buddhist awareness of the transcience of privilage, status and indeed of all life, themes which had a particular irony, considering the troubled times that existed outside the court during the late Kamakura and Muromachi periods.
After the 15c, when successive generations of the Tosa familyTosaha assumed headship azukari of the edokoro, yamato-e came to refer to paintings whose style was increasingly miniaturist and gilded. By the 16c, other distinct painting schools began to flourish, particularly the Kanou school Kanouha and yamato-e therefore became more deeply identified with the Tosa and related Sumiyoshi family Sumiyoshiha. Yamato-e also influenced the Rinpa and ukiyo-e styles.
In the late Edo period (late 18c/early 19c) artists following Tanaka Totsugen (1767-1823), such as Ukida Ikkei (1795-1859), and Okada Tamechika (1823-64), studied yamato-e from earlier periods (especially the Tosa tradition) and attempted to revive its style and themes. Many affiliated with the Yamato-e Revivalist School (Fukko yamato-eha) took dangerous political risks supporting a monarchist restoration in opposition to the failing Tokugawa government. Yamato-e continued to influence painters in the Meiji period (late 19c) particularly those whose particular interest was historic themes rekishigaha for one. Even in the 20c, yamato-e influenced the broad range of painting known as nihonga which employs the traditional yamato-e pigment and tools, as well as some of its style and themes.
Lit. bird-and-flower painting. Paintings of birds and flowers, flowers only kakiga, insects, plants souchuuga, or domestic animals reimouga . The bird-and-flower theme was a major one in yamato-e painting, although only those on lacquerware and metalwork survive from before the Kamakura period. The oldest extant paintings which treat bird-and-flower as an independent theme are the Muromachi period monochrome ink paintings done by Zen ‘T monks, influenced by paintings of the Song and Yuan dynasties sougenga. Influenced by Chinese Academic painting, professional artists in the 15c. began painting polychrome depictions of a bird-and-flower on screens. In many cases birds and flowers placed in a landscape setting progress seasonally across the screens from right to left or vice versa shiki kachou-zu. Kanou School, Kanouha artists are credited with creating a new style by synthesizing the ink-painting brushwork of Chinese painting with the flat, bright colors and abundant use of gold in traditional yamato-e painting. In the Momoyama period, bird-and-flower motifs were set against a brilliant gold background using gold leaf and painted on large-scale screen and walls in the interiors of residential castles. Two distinct styles emerged in the Edo period: the decorative rendering of flowers and grasses by Rinpa artists; and the naturalistic style by the artists of the Maruyama Shijouha, who synthesized the decorative yamato-e tradition with a fresh view of nature. Later, woodblock print, ukiyo-e artists like Andou Hiroshige (1797-1858) also employed bird-and flower designs.
Kanouha school
A hereditary school of professional artists, patronized by military governments from the late Muromachi (15c) to the early Meiji periods (19c). The Kanou school produced a large number of talented and distinguished painters, who worked in a wide variety of formats and styles on themes such as Buddhist subjects, Chinese figures, bird-and-flower paintings, animals, landscapes, genre paintings fuuzokuga nanban screens (nanban byoubu) and even maps of Japan and the world. The founder of the school, Kanou Masanobu (1434-1530), was a painter of samurai origin and succeeded Oguri Soutan (1413-81) as an official painter goyou-eshi to the Muromachi shogunate. He worked on both ink-painting suibokuga a new trend started by the 14c Zen ‘T priest-painters, and colorful yamato-e of Japanese origin. In ink-painting, in particular, he invented an original style employing light colors and simple compositions, which became very popular among the military government at that time. Kanou Motonobu (1476-1559), Masanobu's son, further strengthened the school by expanding his social and political connections to the upper strata of Muromachi society. Motonobu is credited with having established the orthodox Kanou style by combining yamato-e themes and techniques with ink-painting. This achievement is called by modern scholars the "synthesis of Japanese and Chinese" wakan yuugou. Motonobu also instituted a studio system that ensured the continued training of generations of painters. His son, Shouei (1519-92) passed this tradition on to the next, his own son, Eitoku (1543-90), who established a new heroic style. Patronized by Oda Nobunaga (1534-82) and then Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-98), Eitoku produced monumental works at various rulers' castles and mansions. Responding to the demands of both patronage and architecture, Eitoku created a new, magnificent and brilliant style of painting on gold-foil backgrounds kinpeki shouhekiga. Huge trees, regal animals such as tigers, hawks and lions, as well as Chinese figural themes became part of these aggressive and confident designs. A representative example of Eitoku's grand style is the pair of huge screens called the "Chinese Lions" (Karajishi-zu) Imperial Collection. Eitoku also employed genre themes. A pair of screens of the "Scenes In and Around Kyoto" (Rakuchuu rakugai-zu) Uesugi collection, was recorded to have been presented by Nobunaga to General Uesugi Kenshin (1530-78) in 1574. It is often cited as a forerunner of genre painting as developed in the 17c. Other early Kanou artists who employed genre themes included Kanou Hideyori (d.1557) "Maple Viewing of Mt Takao"; (Takao kanpuu-zu) Tokyo National Museum), Naganobu (1577-1654) "Merrymaking Under the Cherry Blossoms" (Kaka yuuraku-zu) Tokyo National Museum and Naizen (1570-1616) "Houkoku Festival" (Houkoku sairei-zu) Houkoku Jinja Kyoto). Two major Kanou artists of the late 16c were Mitsunobu (1561-1608), Eitoku's son, and Sanraku (1559-1635), Eitoku's disciple. These painters did not continue their master's monumental style but worked in their own manner, characterized by more fragmented compositions, quieter moods, delicacy, elegance and decorativeness. Sanraku's heir, Sansetsu (1589-1651), became the leader of the Kanou school in Kyoto Kyouganou (1631-97), Sansetsu's son, is most famous as the author of the HONCHOU GASHI one of the earliest biographical histories of the artists of Japan. It was Mitsunobu and his followers who started to serve Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616). Mitsunobu twice went to Edo, where the Tokugawa government was established in 1603. The major Kanou artist of the early Edo period was Tan'yuu (1602-74), Mitsunobu's nephew, a child prodigy who became the first official painter to the Tokugawa shogunate in 1617 at the age of 16. Tan'yuu with his brothers Naonobu (1607-50) and Yasunobu (1614-85) worked to decorate two magnificent structures built at the time: Nijoujou Kyoto, in 1626 and the Jourakuden of Nagoyajou in 1634. Tan'yuu created a unique style, particularly in ink painting, which was characterized by the use of wide empty space, plain composition and refined brushwork and was to be influential for a long time. In the mid-17c Tan'yuu's brothers also became official painters for the Tokugawa family, and thus the core of the Kanou school moved to Edo. In Edo there were four major branches oku-eshi and twelve minor branches omote-eshi of the Kanou school employed by the shogunate. In addition, many daimyou employed artists in the same mould who were in the most part able students and followers of the upper level Kanou artists. The various Kanou painters thus secured a virtual monopoly of the commisions among the Tokugawa military elite. Some artists trained in the Kanou ateliers, however, were not patronized and opened shops in towns michiganou and formed the level of the Kanou organization. Some were allowed to use the Kanou family name, while others used their own family names. The Kanou school overwhelmed the world of Edo painting. All who had any ambition in painting came to a greater or lesser degree under the influence of the school. Kanou painting in the latter half of the Edo period was characterized by the eclectic manner originated by Tan'yuu with additional elements derived from Rinpa works and even touches of naturalism. Other features of the school include the practices of repeating the same subject matter and copying their masters' works in order to both polish their skills and maintain the school's tradition. Minutely codified formulations extending even to the manner of holding and moving the brush were passed down from master to pupil. The school eventually became so orthodox and dogmatic that progressive painters, while receiving some training from Kanou painters, often disassociated themselves from the school in the end. Among the painters who had dropped out from the Kanou organization, Kusumi Morikage (act. mid-17c) and Hanabusa Itchou (1652-1724) are especially well-known. Although the Kanou school lost official patronage after the beginning of the Meiji period (1868), several artists with strong connections to the Kanou school rose to prominance. Kanou Hougai (1828-88), Hashimoto Gahou (1835-1908) and Kawanabe Gyousai (1831-89) all served for years as Kanou school painters before developing their own styles and professional careers on an independent basis.
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