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Unformatted text preview: kò is called wabicha, or “tea based on wabi.” Developed
primarily by Shukò’s successors during the sixteenth century, wabicha is
a subject for the next chapter.
Another art that flourished in the Muromachi period was monochrome painting (sumi-e) done in the manner evolved several centuries
earlier by artists of the Sung dynasty in China. Like their Japanese counterparts of this later age, the Sung monochrome artists painted a variety
of subjects, including Zen abbots, folk deities, and flowers and birds.
But their primary interest lay in landscapes (known in Japanese as sansui
or pictures of mountains and water). And indeed Sung monochrome
landscapes are among the more striking works of Chinese art. They are,
moreover, perhaps the most supremely moving tributes of any people to
the grandeur and vastness of nature.
The Sung masters did not attempt to reproduce nature as it really
was; rather, they employed bold and even daring brushwork to capture 130 The Canons of Medieval Taste in stylized outline misty scenes of forests, jagged cliffs, waterfalls, and
awesome mountains (the most distant of which often seem to be on the
point of vanishing into space). Human figures sketched into these landscapes are usually antlike in size. We see them, insignificant figures engulfed by the cosmos, as lone travelers moving slowly along mountain
trails or as recluses seated in pavilion-like huts nestled on the sides of
Sung brushwork owed much to the techniques of calligraphy, and it is
in fact common to discuss such brushwork in terms of the three main
styles of Chinese calligraphic writing, the “standing,” “walking”’ and
“running” styles. The first of these is distinguished by thick, angular
strokes, the second by lines that are thinner and more cursive, and the
third—the running style—by impressionistic flourishes and splashes of
ink. Some artists preferred to paint chiefly in one style or another. But
many used all three simultaneously, typically doing foregrounds in the
standing style, middle...
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- Spring '13