The oldest picture scrolls (emakimono) of Buddhist type are preserved from the Nara period. Text illustrations on the Buddha’s life (E-ingakyō), the cult image of the goddess of luck Kichijōten (771, in the Yakushiji) painted on silk and mostly profane images on musical instruments, banners and screens in the Shōsōin also date from this time. Secular picture cycles were created in the courtly painting office, which was modeled on Chinese palace workshops.
Contact with China waned during the Heian period. The first half (until 897) is determined by the esoteric Buddhism of the Shingon and Tendai schools, the main places of worship of which were the mountain monasteries on the Hiei near Kyōto and on the Kōyasan. Popular motifs in the sculpture were the various manifestations of the Buddha Mahavairocana (Dainichi in Japanese), the preferred material was wood. The figures, made from one block (Ichibokuzukuri), are of moderate weight. The second half of the epoch, the Fujiwara period, brought about a Japaneseization of art and culture. The refined style of the court society is also evident in the architecture, in graceful buildings with lavish interiors. in ShindenstilResidential buildings are arranged in a natural walled garden around an artificial lake and connected with covered walkways. The conversion of donated residences resulted in a new type of temple complex. The only surviving example is the phoenix hall (Hōōdō) of the Byōdōin near Uji (1053).
The art of sculpture gained graceful elegance and movement. Wooden sculptures were no longer made from one piece, but put together (Yosegizukuri). The mid-11th century leading sculptor Jōchō († 1057) created the masterpiece of the Fujiwara period with the gilded Amida of the Phoenix Hall, which became a classic model for later sculptures. The associated Bodhisattvas (Japanese Bosatsu) are from the same workshop. Under the influence of the Amida school (Jōdo-shū), the image of salvation moved into the focus of Buddhist painting (Amida-raigō, “Descent of the Amida-Buddha”, among others), in which Japanese landscape elements were also included (e.g. wall painting of the phoenix hall of the Byōdōin).
In the 10th century, according to computergees, painting emancipated itself from the Chinese Tang style and gradually developed a specifically Japanese quality called Yamato-e (“Japanese painting”). A lyrical atmosphere, softly flowing outlines and the use of valuable pigments such as malachite and azurite as well as shell limestone characterize the pictures in the Yamato style. In Buddhist painting, in addition to gold paint, cut gold foil (kirigane) was cleverly used to accentuate the robes and accessories. Sutras scrolls and scripts, mostly written in gold or silver on paper dyed with indigo, were adorned with ornamental vegetal, figural and landscape depictions. Display screens that served cultic purposes were also provided with polychrome landscape images. In addition to religious painting, secular painting developed, mostly in the form of emaki, long horizontal scrolls, which are independent in terms of subject matter and techniquewith (later continuous) presentation of a story. The transverse roles of the Genji-monogatari (1st half of the 12th century) reveal a lyrical, courtly character with a parallel-perspective spatial arrangement, opaque colors and stylization of the figures. The picture narration of the Bandainagon Ekotoba (mid-12th century), the chronicle of the Chōgosanji temple on the Shigisan (Shigisan-engi, 2nd half of the 12th century) and the satirical emaki with animal and human caricatures (in the Kōzanji at Kyōto), who herald the influence of Chinese song painting with the virtuosity and spontaneity of the brushwork.
The development of writing, which is valued higher than painting in East Asia, led to purely Japanese forms (calligraphy). The writing of poems in the newly developed Kana syllabary on decorated sheets of poetry (Shikishi) with underground painting or on narrow strips of paper (Tanzaku) in flowing brush strokes became the entertainment of the court nobility. The arts and crafts now also showed ornaments of Japanese character, especially on bronze mirrors and in lacquer art (Boxes and chests with a pure gold lacquer base or black lacquer base, often combined with different inlays). Excellent work was created in weaving and dyeing works; The kimono was developed from the Chinese costume. In house construction, the shōji (sliding walls) took the place of the hinged windows, the wooden floor was initially only partially covered with thick mats (tatami).
Kamakura period and Nanbokuchō period
(1192-1333 and 1333-92)
With the re-establishment of the Shogunate in Kamakura, a new cultural center was formed next to that of the imperial city of Kyoto. A hard, warlike spirit characterizes this splendid epoch of Japanese chivalry. The introduction of Zen Buddhisminitially only affected the architecture the end. Following the pattern of the Song monasteries, temples in the Chinese style (Karayō), axially symmetrical structures with stone platforms and high, heavy tiled roofs, e.g. B. the Kenchōji in Kamakura (1253), the Nanzenji (1293) and the Daitokuji (1324) in Kyoto. The style of the warrior residences (Bukezukuri) is a simplification of the Shinden style. The restoration of the temples and sculptures in Nara, which had been destroyed by wars, led to a renaissance of the turbulent “Nararealism” of the 8th and 9th centuries. There were also influences from the Chinese song era.