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Unformatted text preview: to dance before the viewer’s
eyes (fig. 50).
We noticed that during the fifteenth century a style of residential
room, the shoin style, evolved from the model of a type of den or library The Flourishing of a Bourgeois Culture 177 Fig. 50 Ogata Kòrin’s “Iris and Bridge,” a painting of the same subject as the
more famous Iris Screen (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Louisa E. McBurney
Gift Fund, 1953) found in Zen temples. The principal features of the shoin room included
tatami matting (covering the entire floor), fusuma and shòji sliding doors,
an alcove (tokonoma), asymmetrical shelves, and a low, installed desk
called shoin (which gave its name to the entire style of room). Not until
the Momoyama epoch and early Tokugawa period, however, were all
these features fully integrated to form the mature shoin style. In the process, three major variations evolved: a grand shoin style for the construction of rooms to serve as settings for the public functions and rituals of
the samurai elite (shogun and daimyos); an intimate—in many cases,
simple and unpretentious—style for use primarily in private samurai
residences; and a special style called sukiya (literally, “building or room
of taste”) adapted to the needs of the tea ceremony. Tokugawa law prohibited use of the shoin style in the homes of all save samurai, but with
the passage of time members of the other classes managed to incorporate shoin elements into their rooms. By the time Japan made the transition into the modern age in the late nineteenth century, the shoin room
was established as the prototypical Japanese residential room. It remains
In addition to serving a variety of interior design and aesthetic tastes,
the shoin room, through adaptation, also met the demands for social
status distinction that were so important in Tokugawa society, especially
among the samurai. In earlier times, when residences and most other
buildings had floors of polished wood, status was recognized by having
some people sit on...
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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.
- Spring '13