Japan: Ancient Buddhist Paintings

Japan: Ancient Buddhist Paintings

Japan: Ancient Buddhist Paintings

Japan: Ancient Buddhist Paintings

Excerpt

Japanese art has been known in Europe down to the present day principally through XIXth- century paintings and prints. The masterpieces of the earlier historical periods have remained all but unknown. The number of Westerners in a position to study them has been extremely limited. Fortunately, in recent years, exhibitions of Japanese art organized abroad by the Government of Japan have given the public at large an opportunity to see these works and to appreciate their beauty. The present album will enable the reader to acquaint himself more closely with the artistic production of that remote period and to understand it better, thanks to the descriptive text of Mr. Matsushita, whose scholarly commentaries bring out clearly the aesthetic qualities of these important paintings.

In Japan, as in many other countries, art was at the outset closely associated with a foreign religious cult. The Buddhist clergy, trained by the Chinese and the Koreans, succeeded to an astonishing extent in adapting both art and doctrines to Japanese requirements. This world religion in its Chinese form was brought to Japan in 538 A.D. by the Korean clergy, who had been converted to Buddhism during the IVth century. The Japanese aristocracy of the Yamato court had been in contact with Chinese civilization since the beginning of the Vth century, when a number of Korean scholars arrived in Japan, bringing Chinese books with them. In 538, the Korean emissary brought . . .

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