The culture of Japan comes into a more understood focus in the first centuries. Japan profoundly got its transformation during the first years of the Asuka period, ranging from 552 till 646 C.E. During this period culture of Japan reached a massive part of other Asian countries through the mediation with Korea. Japanese artists personified several works of art to tell something about their country and culture. In ancient times, different events such as political, historical, cultural, and religious-inspired artists and their works. Moreover, women made or commissioned some pieces of artwork while others worked with women as the main subject. Among various countries of Asia, Japan stands out in art production with its sense of uniqueness that attracts people to learn more about their culture. The shapes, positions, materials, colors, texture, themes, and other various inspiring events give the pieces of art their expression and meaning. Examples of Japanese works of art that possess women as the subject or commissioned by them include the Minori chapter of Genji Monogatari Emaki, which is a piece of art from the first half of the 12th century, found in Tokugawa Art Museum in Nagoya. Secondly, there is Geigi from the series Hokkoku Yoshiki Sumi, Uchikake with a design of bamboo and a mist, and lastly Kiyohara Tama from 1878 (Lane, p. 99-131).
Minori Chapter of Genji Monogatari Emaki
This piece of art from the first half of the 12th century possesses some unique features. It has colored ink and the size of 8 6/8 by 19 inches, which is equivalent to 21.9 by 48.3 centimeters respectively. Furthermore, this piece of art has millions of viewers from all over the world and is permanent for viewing in the Tokugoya Art Museum located in Nakugoya. The object emerges from stylized combinations of pleated and decorous fine clothes. With a blend of the woman’s appearance of composed and tranquil, white-powdered mask-like faces in the reality; therefore, there is extreme tension on the inside. This object comes from a sad event of sexual abuse and rapes. Japan’s culture is strongly convinced with the fact that women were household objects who were to satisfy the needs and demands of men. Nevertheless, the victim was seduced but did not allow her emotions to betray her during the painting of the object (Ivan, p. 78-92).
In painting, the victim displays indirect feelings of insecurity and hurt. This portrays that women of the ancient eras had no permission to give their opinions on the issues. They were learned to be silent and obedient to all orders regardless of their opposition. The object describes the role of women as those whose duty is to protect and build the name of their husbands and superiors in society. In other words, they should portray emotions to the public in such a way that outsiders will not know their troubles. The artist constructs their face to reveal happiness and confidence while deep within there is hurt and deceit. This object causes the issues, and problems of women to remain central because they do not have a voice in society. Thus, this means they do not get to exercise their rights as individuals in society. The construction of space and architectural setting portrays women in disciplined manners indoors and outdoors with nobility (Ivan, p. 78-92).
Geigi from the Series Hokkoku Goshiki Sumi
Gigi is a piece of art whose ideas are taken from the series Hokkoku Yoshiki Sumi. The object portrays five kinds of ink from the Northern Provinces of Japan during the 1790s. It is made of valuable woodblock print and has the size of 15 by 91/8 inches, which is equivalent to 38 by 23.2 centimeters respectively. It is a private collection for audiences meaning that if one wants to view it, he or she would see the original artist, unlike the Genji Monogatari Emaki, which is in a public museum and is accessible to everyone. For this reason, it has ratings as one of the most expensive ancient works of art in Japan. The painting is a religiously inspired piece of work that represents the various religions that were presented in the ancient eras. For example, Buddhism inspired the construction of many buildings in the country. The five kinds of ink portray the five dynasties built during this period in Asia (Marks, p. 11-36).
The composition of this object is presented by women who were inspired to fight for their freedom of worship. They wanted to have a sense of belonging and spiritual fulfillment in their lives and homes. Furthermore, Buddhism and Christianity were fast-rising and intellectually challenging since many did not understand their meaning and practices. Later, there was the Islamic faith with a hierarchy of deities, which complicated spiritual matters because every religion wanted a popular position in the land. For a long time, there was increasing trouble with the rise of societal wars that demanded an establishment of peaceful agreements among societies. Women worked together from different towns to prove to society and the government that they can do good and productive deeds in society as well. Then the government passed a comforting message that each individual would choose the religion to follow and serve. Thus, this was the most delightful achievement of women that granted them freedom. People have no longer limitations regarding what religion to commit themselves to (Marks, 11-36).
Uchikake with a Design of Bamboo and Mist
Uchikake is a piece of art, which was created during 1700 C.E and attributed to Gion Nankai. The painting has the size of 64 3/4 by 48 7/8 inches, which is equivalent to 164.5 by 124.1 centimeters respectively. It is made of quality gold leaf, ink, and white figured silk satin and gold powder. It is permanent for viewing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Gift of Harry G.C. The object describes political customs in the society at the time and the unspoken corruption that controls the political system. This painting represents politics as a very important part of society besides a very dirty and corrupt entity. For several years, in the ancient eras, women had no opportunities to be leaders; thus their leadership skills had no recognition in society. This object portrays a chance of leadership for women. It speaks on the despondent need for political change in status. The normal status of politics was corrupted, unpleasant, and involved in shameless acts for victory while the people desired pleasant, non-corrupt, and selfless politics. Once again, women portray the change that many in society desire (Oliver ETL, p. 99-124).
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Kiyohara Tama is a piece of work that represents historical characteristics. It is for a reason that it has combined historical ideas and influences. It is made of bronze and has a height of 191/8 inches, which is equivalent to 48.5 centimeters respectively. It is on public display for all viewers at Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music. It also represents the beauty of women in Japan and presents Japan as a beautiful country as well. It is historically inspired to make a remembrance of important historical events, which help define the culture of the Japanese. This way, other people and countries learn more about the cultural practices of Japan (Ohki, p.1).
An object like this one not only narrates the culture and history of Japan but also says a lot about changes in cultural practices in terms of improving women’s position in society. During the first centuries of the ancient era, women had no say on matters, but with their contribution towards building and improving the state of the society, the society regarded them as equally important people. This object explains the changes in cultural practices in favor of women and girl children (Kambarney, p.1).
In conclusion, Japanese pieces of art are highly recognized and appreciated worldwide because of their uniqueness and expressions. While they express issues about Japan’s historical, religious, political, and cultural practices, they have also played a major role in attracting tourists. Through tourist attractions, Japan has gained popularity and a recommendable position all over the world. For this reason, it has been able to have foreign investors who made new inventions towards the growth and development of Japan. In addition to this, Japan has gained a stable economy that has influenced other economic systems in surrounding countries. Through the artwork of Japan, several countries have gained knowledge and skills in making similar creations that can attract foreigners as well.
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