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Yamato-e art [Japan]
Yamato-e art [Japan]

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The essence of traditional Japan :

'Yamato-e' literally refers one of the oldest Japanese names and also to an area in the country that is now known as the ' Nara ' region, which holds the ancient capitol of Japan .

This term was first used in the 8 th century, during which Japanese art was greatly influenced by China . It persisted until the early 12 th century. Literally, 'yamato-e' means 'of Japanese style' and this was essentially a secular style of painting most common to the Imperial Court, markedly different from the other, Chinese-influenced styles that came slightly later. It stands in direct opposition to the religiously inspired Kano painting that was based on the principles of Zen-Buddhism. Yamato-e was formally rigid, reflecting the social regime and strict laws of etiquette of medieval Japanese aristocracy. The contours are harshly linear and graphic and the only soft images are those few decorations that adorn each scene. It is considered by today's standards to be a highly stylized kind of figurativeness, but in its own day it was thought of as almost scandalously detailed.


The characteristics of yamato-e art:

Its main characteristics are decorative designs and clean, bright colors that contrast against pale, luminescent whites and pastels. It is difficult to totally define the style as it ultimately produced a very diverse array of signature sub-categories, from the sophisticated minimalism of the early works to the emotionally charged ' Edo ' school. From it also sprang a new technique of lacquer paintings on wood, and the Japanese artists took this primarily Chinese art form and innovated on it; creating small pottery artifacts, lacquered wooden cabinets and boxes. They became masters at miniature art and show a unique skill of translating full size images and perspectives onto the smallest items. Eventually this style stopped producing independent works of art and became purely decorative and today it remains a hallmark style of Japan , recognizable in wall hangings, paintings and artifacts. The most famous examples of yamato-e art are the illustrated manuscripts from the Heian period that depict the sophisticated lifestyle and culture of the Emperor and his court. Human figures are painted with minimally detailed, black contours; the faces are nothing but blank, almond-shaped spaces with two small lines to indicate eyes and the backgrounds are left starkly empty but for the rich, pale color of the wood or paper.

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