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Edo Period (1615-1868) (vocabulary)

Flowers and Birds of the Twelve Months

Flowers and Birds of the Twelve Months, one of a pair (1703), by Yamamoto Soken (1683-1706). Japan. Six panel folding screen; Ink and colors on silk. The Avery Brundage Collection, B60D82+.1.

bakufu: warrior government

byobu: a folding screen made of paper or silk covering a wooden, hinged frame,
often painted

Chanoyu: Japanese tea ceremony, the ritualized preparation and drinking of macha (powdered, green tea) in a highly aesthetic environment

chonin: “people of the blocks,” used to refer to merchants and artisans who lived in urban areas

daimyo: regional warrior leaders who ruled autonomously over the various regions of Japan

enso: in Zen painting, a circle painted with a brush and ink as an act of meditation; often accompanied by a poem or Zen parable, the enso has infinite meanings, has been called “the all, the void, and enlightenment

Kabuki: among all the Japanese theatrical arts (Noh, Bunraku, Kabuki), it is the most popular form, featuring beautiful costumes and elaborate sets. The plots deal with historical events, morality tales, and ghost stories. Kabuki actors were revered like modern-day Hollywood stars

kami: nature spirits that exists in all things living or not, basis of the Shinto religion, which is native to Japan

kana script: Japanese alphabet system, or syllabary

kanga: “Chinese painting” or more accurately, Chinese-style painting by Japanese artists, particularly associated with Kano painters of the 15th–19th centuries

Kano school: painting school that primarily served the samurai class; bold designs of powerful animals and symbolic plants and trees; associated with kanga or “Chinese painting” style, although blended the expressive brushwork of kanga with the brilliant colors and gold prevalent in native Japanese painting style.

literati painter: also known as a Nanga artist or Bunjinga (literati painter); an artist who studied Chinese texts and paintings and adapted Chinese style in their work

mon: a family crest used to design clothing, banners, luggage etc.

mono no aware: a pathos for the fleeting moments of beauty, joy, even heartbreak that are part of being human; often used to describe literature, particularly The Tale of Genji

Nanga (southern painting) or Bunjinga (scholar or literati painting): modeled on Chinese Ming dynasty artist/theorist’s conception of southern painting, which was freely executed and expressive by scholar-amateur artists; Japanese literati artists often doubled as poets, tea masters, raconteurs, as well as painters; most associated with Kyoto and Osaka

Neo-Confucian: the prefix “neo” is used because Confucian ideology was revived and reframed by Chinese scholars in Song dynasty China; refers to a new set of ideas about human relations and governance that were expanded from Confucius’ original teachings

Rangaku: “Dutch Learning” referring to the study of Western ideas

Rinpa (or Rimpa) school: merchant class artists from Kyoto who revived courtly aesthetics and themes; known for brilliantly colored paintings and lavish use of gold on every format imaginable; compositions often accentuate the flatness of the painting surface and emphasize pattern and design

roji: “dewy path;” garden path, usually made of stepping stones, leading to a tea house; an important place to mark transition from worlds outside and inside the tea room

Sengoku period: “country at war,” a civil war that plagued Japan from 1467–1568 sumptuary laws: regulations that restrict the owning of luxury goods

Shinto: “the way of the gods,” the native Japanese religion based on agrarian concerns, which reveres spirits that dwell in natural phenomena, such as rocks, water, trees, and mountains. Shinto beliefs are still practiced, featuring prominently in marriage rites and the plethora of annual festivals and parades in modern Japan.

Shogun: supreme military leader

Shogunate: government of the Shogun, also called bakufu

tatami mat: thick straw mats measuring about three by six feet, finished with woven grass; the traditional floor covering in Japan

tokonoma: raised alcove in a traditional room used for the display of paintings and flowers

Tokugawa: the name of the ruling Shogun family that was in power during the Edo period

Tosa school: Kyoto painting academy for the imperial family and nobility; took classical Japanese literature as subjects; developed a refined painting style called yamato-e (pictures of Yamato—an old fashioned name for Japan)

Wabi: often translated as “rustic;” the aesthetic values for imperfection, austerity, simple beauty, and old objects that show their wear.

waka: a 36-syllable poem

yamato-e: “pictures of Yamato;” Yamato is an old fashioned name for Japan, therefore yamato-e is considered a purely Japanese painting style, consciously distinguished from kanga

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