Heiji Monogatari Emaki: Fusion of Onna-e and Otoko-e

analytical Essay
1077 words
1077 words

Yamato-e and Emaki
During the Heian period (794-1185 C.E), Japan experienced significant cultural growth. The Heian period was the longest time of peace in the nation’s history. The arts, literature and handwriting were cultivated into something that was completely Japanese. No longer was China seen as the exemplar of the nation, Japan during the Heian period turn towards its self to build its countries social, cultural, and aesthetics taste. With the distinction between what was considered Japanese and what was foreign terms were created to identify what was consider Japanese art yamato-e (Japanese paintings) and what was Chinese art kara-e (Chinese paintings). Yamato-e differs from kara-e because it focuses on Japanese culture and ideas of beauty. Most yamato-e was inspired by the non-religious world of Japan, focusing on themes from poetry, prose, and literature. Yamato-e also focused on Japanese nature, the things that the Japanese saw and experienced in their own country. The development of Yamato-e lead to a rise in secular art that was influence mostly by literature, for instance many landscape paintings were influence by Japanese waka poetry .
Yamato-e painting not only changed the way landscape painting were illustrated, but also influenced another genre of art called emakimono or emaki. Emakimono was influenced for the East Asian format for writing in which texts are written from right to left. The format of emaki are horizontal and opens from left to right, this provided a natural way to relate text and images . Emakimono are usually depicted in two style otoko-e (men’s picture) and onna-e (women’s pictures). Otoko-e stemmed from the monochrome paintings and paintings with light use of color. These otoko-e painting...

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... hair and the face of the women show no emotion. While a nyobo (hand maiden) combs the mistress’s hair, another lady-in-waiting reads from a manuscript. The chamber is decadent with bright colors and beautiful screens of landscape paintings.

Bowdoin. “Heiji Monogatari Emaki.” Last modified 2010.
Ienaga, Saburo. Painting in the Yamato Style. New York: Weatherhill, 1973.
Mason, Penelope. History of Japanese Art. New Jersey: Pearson, 2005.
Murase, Miyeko. The Tale of Genji: Legends and Paintings. Great Britain: British Museum Press, 2001.
Shirane, Haruo. Traditional Japanese Literature: An Anthology Beginnings to 1600. New York: Columbia, 2007.
Soper, Alexander C. “The Rise of Yamato-E.” Art Bulletin 24 (1947): 351.
Stanley-Baker, Joan. Japanese Art. London: Thames & Hudson, 2000.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that the heian period was the longest time of peace in the nation's history.
  • Explains that yamato-e painting influenced emakimono, a genre of art based on the east asian format for writing.
  • Explains that emakimono was an art form used and practiced by the heian elite, especially the imperial family and fujiwara clan.
  • Analyzes how murasaki shikibu's tale of genji is about a young prince born of the emperor and the lowest consort among the emperor’s court.
  • Explains that the genji monogatari emaki are the oldest existing paintings of the heian period, with only twenty-eight sections of text and twenty segments of paintings remaining today.
  • Analyzes how the genji monogatari emaki exhibits onna-e style and uses a laborious coloring technique called tsukuri e (artificial/ made-up painting).
  • Cites bowdoin's "heiji monogatari emaki" as a reference. ienaga, saburo, mason, penelope, murase, miyeko, and shirane.
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