This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: a, Yamato artists began to add poems to their pictures appropriate to the particular seasons and settings they were depicting. They
thus joined together three forms of art: poetry, calligraphy, and painting.
And in the process they contributed a narrative or descriptive element to
their works that led from the painting of individual scenes on screens and
doors to the use of Yamato pictures as illustrations in books, and finally,
about the turn of the twelfth century, to the development of narrative
scrolls (perhaps most conveniently referred to henceforth as emaki to
avoid confusion with the earlier types of Yamato pictures).
Although horizontal handscrolls had long been used for pictorial purposes in China, it was the Japanese who in the late Heian period came to
employ them in the creation of a major art form. The oldest, and in many
ways the most splendid, of the emaki extant from Heian times are the
Genji Scrolls, probably painted sometime around the mid-twelfth century
(fig. 27). There may originally have been as many as twenty of these
scrolls but only four have come down to us. Strictly speaking, the Genji
Scrolls are not fully narrative pictures, since they do not possess the horizontal flow of movement and the blending of scenes one into another that The Advent of a New Age 87 became the dominant characteristic of subsequent emaki. Rather, the
Genji Scrolls consist of separate scenes with sections of text interspersed
A distinctive technical convention used in the Genji Scrolls is the
removal of roofs from buildings to provide oblique views into their interiors from above. Another is the drawing of faces with stylized “straight
lines for eyes and hooks for noses.” This elimination of facial expression
seems particularly fitting for the portrayal of members of a society that
so admired fixed, ideal types. Like the authors of much of Heian literature, the artists of the Genji Scrolls sought more to create a series of
moods than to depict particular individuals and particular situations (although of course we know from the novel who the people are and what
they are doing).
View Full Document
This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.
- Spring '13