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Evolution Of Japanese Art Essay

2479 words - 10 pages

The evolution of Japanese art: Asuka to Heian
After the introduction of Buddhism to Japan, Japanese artists followed strictly with the Chinese style during the Asuka period and Hakuho period. Almost all artworks of that time were religious pieces having to deal with Buddhism. However, in the Heian period, Japan moved its capital from Nara to Heian Kyo due to the strong political powers that Buddhist temples held at the time. This separation from the strong Buddhist influences allowed the Japanese to establish a more elaborated court life, in turn helped Japan to develop their own native style. The style of Japanese artworks changed dramatically from the Nara to Heian period not only due to ...view middle of the document...

Perhaps the most key feature that indicated the direct influence of the Shaka Triad from the Longmen cave sculpture is the orientation of the Sculpture. In the Shaka Triad, all sculptures have an incomplete back that is not sculpted, meaning the view is suppose to view the artwork only from the front. This is parallel to the Longmen cave sculptures where the figurine is directly cut into the rocks, unable to present a view that is not directly from the front.
The import of this style is possibly related to one of the most important figurine that was imported at that time, the Korean sculpture of Miroku. In the early Asuka period, many Buddhist artworks were in fact not made by Japanese artists at all, but imported from Korean as gifts. The Miroku sculpture is one of the most important figurines that survived to this day. This sculpture was made in the Chinese elongated style, in the later 6th century. This also explains why there is a delay of styles between China and Japan. Where the elongated style was popular during the 6th century in China, it was popular during the 7th century in Japan.
Of course the elongated style was not limited to sculptures of that time, but also found in paintings. The Tamamushi shrine, made around 650 c shows the only example of Japanese paintings that survived during the early 7th century . The painting depicts one of Shakamuni’s past life called the Hungry Tigress Jataka. Resemblance of the Chinese 6th century style can be found in both the figurine and the landscape. What is important about the landscape of this painting is the way how the mountain cliffs are depicted. The use of colors, and C-shaped cliff edges, are signature features found in Han-chinese artworks . Also the way how the painting is outlined, with a single defined iron wire line, is a distinctive feature found in Chinese paintings during the 6th century . The direct influence from China becomes a very important feature in Japanese art during these periods.
During the Hakuho and early Nara period, Japan became very close with China. The art style of this period quickly shifted to the Tang Dynasty style that was employed in China at that time. The Tang Dynasty style figurines have an overall fleshier body and natural look. Some of the features are round faces, broad shoulders. The Yakushi Traid, found in the Yakushiji, depicted the figures in this style. Similar to the Shaka Triad, the Yakushi triad also features the main Buddha in the center, accompanied by two Bodhisattvas; this was the popular composition of Buddha sculptures of that time. However, the Tang dynasty style can be clearly seen in all of the depictions of the figures. The shoulders of the sculptures were broader, their faces were rounder, and also the drapery of the clothes became more naturalistic. Overall however, the general characteristics of Buddha did not change. He still has the downcast eyes, and the distinctive hairstyle that is found on all Buddha depictions....

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