To some lovers of ukiyo e the early primitive works

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Unformatted text preview: er degree than either of his distinguished contemporaries, Bashò dealt with the eternal verities and spoke to all people of all ages. Still another major art form to emerge from the Genroku epoch— and indeed the form of Japanese art probably best known in the West— was the woodblock print, used to depict ukiyo-e or “pictures of the floating world.” Any attempt to trace the precise origins of the ukiyo-e would necessitate a detailed investigation of the many streams of development in painting in Japan from at least the late medieval era on, and so complex are these streams that the task could probably not be definitively done. But the immediate precursor of the ukiyo-e was clearly the genre painting, discussed in the last chapter, that flourished in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. In fact, it is debatable what criteria should be used to distinguish the earlier genre works from the ukiyo-e, although one crucial distinction is certainly the fact that the former were painted (so far as we know) by members of the “aristocratic” schools such as the Kanò, whereas the ukiyo-e were done by townsman artists. The establishment of ukiyo-e as an independent art form was, to an exceptional degree, the work of one man, Hishikawa Moronobu (1618– 94). Little is known of Moronobu’s background, although he may have been the son of a Kyoto embroiderer. It is certain, in any case, that he grew up in the region of the ancient imperial capital, where he studied the various schools of art still flourishing there. Moronobu probably moved to Edo in the 1660s, at a time when the city was being extensively rebuilt after the great fire of 1657. This was a critical period in the history of Edo, for in the rebuilding of it much of the influence of the older, more traditional Kansai culture was cast off and the city was allowed to assume an appearance and style uniquely its own. It was from about this time, for example, that kabuki became the theatre par excellence of Edo; and in...
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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.

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