Japanese Art History
Jomon and Yayoi Period ca. 11,000 - ca. 250 BC
The earliest settlers according to archaeologists were a tribal
people, the Ainu. By and by the Ainu people and their culture were
forced to the Northern parts of Japan by the Jomon people (circa 11,000 -
ca. 300 BC).
Around 660 BC, according to old legends and Chinese chronicles, Jimmu
became the first king of Japan. Circa 350 BC the Yayoi people invaded
Japan. Remnants from this period are pottery vessels and clay figures.
Copper and bronze was used for weapons and religious artefacts like
Kofun Period ca. 250 BC - 552
The Kofun period is also called the Tumulus period or Haniwa culture.
Haniwa is the name for a typical kind of clay sculptures found on
tombs. Other known artifacts from this period are bronze mirrors. In 363
Empress Jingo conquered a part of Korea.
Asuka Period 552-645 and Nara Period 646-794
In 552 at the beginning of the Asuka period Buddhism was brought from
China to Japan. This had a circumstantial impact on the development of
Japanese arts. It brought the influence of the advanced Chinese culture
and new techniques in arts and architecture to Japan. In 604 the first
Japanese constitution was introduced. It reflected the idea of the
centralized rule exercised in China. By the 7th century Buddhism was
fully established in Japan
In 710 the city of Nara in the province of Yamato became the capital
of Japan. During the Nara period - under the influence of Buddhism -
Japan assimilated the style of the Chinese Tang dynasty. Many Buddhist
temples were constructed - focused around the area of Nara.
Heian Period 794-1185
In 794 the capital was moved to Heiankyo (now Kyoto). During the
Heian period a more classificatory Japanese art culture burgeoning.
Around 1005 Lady Murasaki Shikibu, a lady-in-waiting to the Empress
Akiko, wrote the tale of Genji Monogatari. It is believed to be the
first novel in the world. It deals with the life and love adventures of
Prince Genji, a kind of medieval womanizer.
In the 9th century the emperors began to retire from the business of
governing the country. The Fujiwara family rose to power. During their
rule, also called the Fujiwara triassic, Japanese arts and literature
Kamakura Period 1185-1333
In 1180 a fierce war broke out between the effectual clans of the
Minamato and the Taira. After achieving final victory in the naval
battle of Dannoura, the Minamato established a new government in
Kamakura. In 1192 Yoritomo became the first shogun. The Kamakura
shogunate represented the real power in the land until the resignation
of the last shogun in 1867. The imperial court in Kyoto was downgraded
to a purely titular power. The shift of power from the nobility to the
class of the samurai warriors had its influence on Japanese arts. During
the Kamakura period more realistic and popularized art forms emerged.
The Japanese graphology and the Japanese tea ceremony were initiated.
In 1252 the Great Kamakura Buddha was constructed. The huge statue
was part of the Kotokuin House of worship of the Jodo sect. The Kamakura
Buddha was originally housed in a great hall that was destroyed by a
storm in 1369.
Muromachi Period 1333-1573
by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi
The Muromachi period is also called the Ashikaga period after the
military clan that took highest of the shogunate. The residence was
moved back to Kyoto, to the Muromachi district of the city. The history
of Japanese art was marked by a move backwards to a more aristocratic
character. Zen Buddhism achieved popularity in Japan and influenced
Japanese artists and artisans. Many orders were placed for the
construction and decoration of Zen temples.
The third shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, built the Kinkakuji temple
(called the Golden Pavilion) and its gardens. During the Muromachi
period, the art of intricate gardening and ikebana reached a high level
of refinement in the history of Japanese arts.
The Kinkakuji temple was put on the UNESCO's World Heritage List
together with 17 other temples in Kyoto. In 1950 the pavilion was burned
down by an insane guardian and was completely rebuilt.
Painting reached high artistic levels. The best-known painters are
two monks, Shubun and Sesshu. Buddhist monasteries were very wealthy and
powerful during this period.
Around 1543 the Portuguese Mendez Pinto came to Japan as the first European.
Author: Regular Articles
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the writer is the owner of art blob and canvas prints store.
he is an art instructor as well