Explaining the Aesthetic Components of Ashikaga Japanese Painting Based on Zen Buddhism

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Master of Art Research, Department of Art Research, Faculty of Art, Ferdows Higher Education Institute, Mashhad, Iran.

2 Assistant Professor, Department of Art Research, Faculty of Art, Ferdows Higher Education Institute, Mashhad, Iran.


Japan has always been one of the most important ancient and noble cultures. Despite having many different neighbors throughout history, Japan has managed to maintain its originality and cultural status. There are many different genres in Japanese art. Among Japanese arts, painting is one of the oldest types of Japanese art and includes many genres. Naturalism is a crucial aspect of traditional Japanese painting. Chinese painting and Western art influenced Japanese painting before the 16th century. Japanese painting styles that are important include Buddhist ritual paintings, paintings with a change in ink concentration, and Japanese calligraphy. Japanese painting has a significant historical period known as the Ashikaga period (1333-1568), which is also known as the Muromachi period. The Ashikaga period is critical because of the influence of Buddhism and Zen Buddhism in art. In this study, to explain the aesthetic components of the form and content of Japanese paintings of the Ashikaga period concerning Zen Buddhism, 15 samples of paintings from this period are analyzed after expressing the theoretical framework. In this research, data collection is done using the library method and image viewing, and the qualitative approach is used for analysis. This research shows that, like Japanese ritual, Japanese art can have dual meanings. Aesthetic concepts in Japanese culture include Wabi, Sabi, Eugene, Kire, and Mono No Aware. The characteristic of ancient Japanese aesthetics promotes respect, importance, and attention to others, both human and non-human. A composite painting based on Zen's revelatory and contemplative quality emerged during the Ashikaga period. Emphasis on the lines forming the Chinese painting method and ancient indigenous themes and motifs are the characteristics of the painting of this period. The aspects of the painting art of this period are similar to the elements of Zen Buddhism art in Japanese culture. In general, the general characteristics of Japanese painting can be summarized in the following points: virginity and little influence of other arts on it (except Chinese art), geographical features of the country and the direct impact of mountains and seas on the works, lack of distinction between the real and Idealism and the dual atmosphere of peace and chaos. Essential features of Ashikaga painting are the distance of art from temples, ancient indigenous themes and motifs, the gradual decline of the vitality of pen and ink, the emergence of Tessa and Kano painting schools, the emphasis on shaping lines, and ink painting based on the quality of Zen revelation. In the case studies from the Ashikaga period, narrative and ritual subjects played a minimal role. Landscape and nature topics or animals have the most share. In almost all cases, the angle of view is opposite. The combination of warrior and samurai concepts, with ritual and philosophical foundations and components of Buddhism and Zen Buddhism, is the basis for the formation of Japanese art in the artistic periods corresponding to these developments. In Japanese culture, a unique relationship between Buddhism and Shinto exists. The sum of these features reflects Zen's influence on the Ashikaga art.


Main Subjects

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