The Politics of Reclusion: Painting and Power in Momoyama Japan

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The Chinese themes of the Four Graybeards of Mt. Shang and the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove figure prominently in the art of Momoyama-period Japan (ca. 1575-1625). Kendall Brown proposes that the dense and multivalent implications of aesthetic reclusion central to these paintings made them appropriate for patrons of all classes - the military, who were presently in power, the aristocracy, who had lost power, and the Buddhist priesthood, who forsook power. These paintings, and their attendant messages, thus ...
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Overview

The Chinese themes of the Four Graybeards of Mt. Shang and the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove figure prominently in the art of Momoyama-period Japan (ca. 1575-1625). Kendall Brown proposes that the dense and multivalent implications of aesthetic reclusion central to these paintings made them appropriate for patrons of all classes - the military, who were presently in power, the aristocracy, who had lost power, and the Buddhist priesthood, who forsook power. These paintings, and their attendant messages, thus serve as dynamic cultural agents that elucidate the fundamental paradigms of early modern Japanese society. Unlike traditional art history studies, which emphasize the style and history of art objects, The Politics of Reclusion sets out to reconstruct the possible historical context for the interpretive reception and use of Chinese hermit themes within a specific period of Japanese art. In emphasizing the political dimension of aesthetic reclusion, it introduces into the field of Japanese art history a discussion of the politics of aesthetics that characterizes recent work in the field of Japanese literature. By embedding the paintings within the contexts of politics, philosophy, religion, and even gender, this study restores the reflexive relations between the paintings and their culture and, as such, is one of the first extensive intellectual and social histories of Japanese art in a Western language. It is one that will appeal not only to students of art but to those interested in Japanese literature, history, and philosophy.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780824817794
  • Publisher: University of Hawaii Press, The
  • Publication date: 4/28/1997
  • Pages: 256

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 Introduction: Seen and Unseen Worlds 1
2 A Tradition of Transformation: The Seven Sages and the Four Graybeards in Japanese Literature 19
3 Symbolic Virtue and Political Legitimation: Tea and Politics in the Momoyama Period 53
4 The Visual Structure of Aesthetic Reclusion: The Seven Sages and the Four Graybeards in Momoyama Painting 73
5 Self-Cultivation and Sagehood: Aesthetic Reclusion as Lived and Leveraged in the Early Seventeenth Century 162
6 Epilogue 175
Notes 183
Glossary 215
Bibliography 225
Index 239
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