Design Motifs

By Saburō Mizoguchi; Louise Allison Cort | Go to book overview

5
Increasing Severity Kamakura Period (1185-1392)

At the end of the twelfth century, political power shifted from the aristocracy to military men, and though the court remained in Kyoto, the effective center of government was moved to Kamakura in the east. The cultural center of the country remained with the aristocrats in Kyoto, for their firmly rooted traditions could not be snatched from them even though their political influence could. On the contrary, as the new political-military leaders and their supporters entered a period of relative calm following the turbulence that surrounded the transferral of power, they tried to assume the traditional life style of the aristocracy with virtually no alterations. Therefore, to the extent that the cultural life of Kyoto underwent no drastic change, the old forms lived on in new guises. Certainly, this was true of decorative motifs: the patterns themselves did not change markedly, although their manner of expression came gradually to reflect the personalities of the new military patrons of the arts.


Motifs Taken from Nature

Bush clover blooms riotously, a family of deer rests momentarily on the bank of a swift-flowing stream, and small birds dart through the sky in the mellow autumn landscape that covers a small inlaid-lacquer box in the Izumo Shrine (Plate 74). In this decoration, the sentimentalism of Heian lacquer ware can still be sensed, but the individual forms, particularly the deer and birds, have become more naturalistic and ani-

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