Learn about the objects found in the alcove (Japanese: tokonoma, pronounced “toe-ko-no-ma”) of a traditional Japanese teahouse and the traditions of the Japanese tea ceremony.
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Students will research objects from the Asian Art Museum’s collection and choose one that they think will earn the most money in the marketplace. Then, they will create a commercial to try to sell their object to the class using evidence as to why the object/idea was considered valuable at the time.
Hermit in landscape, approx. 1618–1652, Chen Hongshou (1598-1652). China; Ming dynasty (1368–1644) or Qing dynasty (1644-1912). Hanging Scroll; ink and colors on silk. Museum purchase, B79D8.
When one thinks of Chinese painting one might think of hanging scrolls and handscrolls. Wall paintings were an early form of painting, preserved today in cave temples, temple buildings, and tombs. Written records describe paintings on palace walls and in humbler dwellings. One of the first advocates of landscape painting, Zong Bing, wrote in the 5th century about the joys of having landscape paintings on the walls of his house so he could imagine himself in the untrammeled world of mountains and streams, mists, trees, and rocks. Hanging scrolls of silk provided wall decoration that could be changed or removed. Handscrolls, primarily used for written documents, became vehicles for the illustrations of paragons of virtue or of supernatural spirits as well as panoramic landscapes, and bird and flower paintings.
Battles at Ichi-no-tani Mountain and Yashima, from Tale of the Heike, approx. 1650–1700. Japan. Edo period (1615–1868). Six-panel screen, ink and colors on gold. The Avery Brundage Collection, B63D8+.
Invasions in the north by the Jin Tartars in the 12th century forced the Song dynasty to retreat to the south where a new court was established at Hangzhou in 1127. Under the Emperor Hui Zong the Imperial Painting Academy already was moving in the direction of closer views of nature, both in landscapes and in images of birds, flowers, and insects. The intent was to capture the vital life spirit of these subjects as well as an understanding of their true form, texture, and movement in space.
In 1420, in an effort to consolidate his control over the throne, the emperor of the Ming Dynasty moved China's capital to a site in the North, now known as Bejing. There, he built a vast complex of palaces and administrative buildings now covering 178 acres. Because access was restricted to the imperial family and to those who had business with them, it came to be known as the Forbidden City. Learn more in this short documentary.
As with art, literature, and philosophy, the Tang dynasty (618-906) nurtured a Golden Age of development and innovation in science and technology that culminated in the Song dynasty (960-1279). The expansive exchange of foreign goods and information during the Tang, together with the high value placed upon close observation and analysis that characterized the Song, set the stage for vigorous scientific innovations. Important advances were made in astronomy, agriculture, industry, medicine, and military technologies.
The first record of tea drinking in Japan occurs early in the Heian period (794–1185) whenit was introduced to the Japanese aristocracy by scholar-monks returning from Tang dynasty China. Learn more.
The samurai was expected to embody good character and ethical conduct. Learn more about the “way of the warrior.”