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Awataguchi Tamamitsu (粟田口 隆光 ?) was a Japanese painter during the Muromachi (Ashikaga) period of Japanese history. He helped produce the Yūzū nembutsu engi (融通念仏縁起絵 ?)[1] housed in the Seiryō-ji, a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. He followed the Yamato-e school. Most of the works he produced were based and inspired by his Buddhist beliefs. He was also a court painter who painted five volumes of the Ashibiki-e scroll paintings during the Ōei period.

Biography

A draughtsman and a painter, Awataguchi Takamitsu was the third son of Tosa Mitsuaki.

Painting history

Awataguchi Takamitsu was a court painter during the Ashikaga period. This period produced Yamato-e and many artists painted Yamato-e on scrolls, sliding doors and screens. Some extant paintings of Awataguchi Takamitsu were found on scrolls. These scrolls keep on the traditional Japanese style, have weak lines and coloring. These Yamatoe-e from the Ashikaga period when compared to those today are different even with the Zen feeling which was prevalent during the Ashikaga period.

The history of the Yamato-e art of the Ashikaga period is not in the Kamakura period scroll format but is in a series of pictures that are separately represented. These period had representations of pictures on scrolls, and screens. One of the works of Awataguchi Takamitsu were referred to in the diary of Prince Sadashige Fushimi which was known as "Kanbun-gyoki" and was described as scroll paintings known as Ashibiki-e (芦引絵).

In Prince Fushimi’s diary the Ashibiki-e are summarized as five volumes of scrolls that were painted by a court painter known as Awataguchi Takamitsu in the Ōei period. Prince Fushimi went on to say that these paintings by Takamitsu were stored in the monastery on Eizan until the ninth year of Eikyō (1436 A.D.) when the fourth volume's text was removed so that it would be rewritten by Emperor Go-Hanazono. At the time or ceremony that the text of the fourth volume was to be written again by Emperor Go-Hanazono, the pictures of the five volumes were instead copied by the emperor and kept for himself. In the tenth year of Eikyō complete sets of scrolls were made by the emperor and texts were added to them. Emperor Go-Hanazono wrote the texts in the first and fifth scrolls originally made by Awataguchi Takamitsu himself, and had Prince Sadashige and the other court nobles write the rest of them.

The pictures in the second scroll of the five were repainted by Mochimori but it is unknown who colored the pictures in the rest of the scrolls. In relation to this record, two volumes of the Ashibiki-e scrolls by Awataguchi Takamitsu were created during the Ōei and Eikyō ages.

These scrolls have been recently found are in the possession of Ichizo Kobayashi. These scrolls were rewritten or redrawn and not the work of EEmperor Go-Hanazono's version or Awataguchi Takamitsu's version. The Ashibiki-e scrolls possessed by Mr. Kobayashi look like they were done by one person and one hand and those two sets of scrolls mentioned were written by more than one hand at the same time.

Awataguchi Takamitsu was a Japanese painter during the Ashikaga period which was also known as the Muromachi period. He helped produce the Yuzu nembutsu engi housed in the Seiryo-ji temple in Kyoto, Japan. He attended the Yamato-e school. Most of the works he produced were based and inspired by his Buddhist beliefs. Awataguchi Takamitsu was also a court painter who painted five volumes of the Ashibiki-ye. The Ashibiki-ye were scroll paintings. The Ashibiki-ye scroll paintings were painted during the Ouei period in Japanese history. Other works painted by Awataguchi Takamitsu included the Yuzu-nenbutsu-engi which were scrolls found in the Seiryoji temple. BIOGRAPHY Awataguchi Takamitsu was a Japanese male draughtsman and a painter. He was a painter in the early 15th century and his works can be placed in the Muromachi and Ouei periods. Awataguchi Takamitsu was the third son of Tosa Mitsuaki. Awataguchi Takamitsu practiced his artistry during the Ashikaga period that was also known as the Muromachi period in Japanese history. The Muromachi period was named after a district in Kyoto, Japan. To understand the works of Awataguchi Takamitsu, the Muromachi period in Japan has to be studied and understood. The Muromachi/Ashikaga period was named so because of the Ashikaga clan that occupied the shogunate. The Ashikaga ruled in Japan for almost 200 years but didn’t extensively exert their political control like the Kamakura bakufu. Those who influenced political events and trends during this time and who held most of the power were the warlords who controlled provinces and were known as provincial warlords. These warlords were known as daimyo. Because the provincial warlords had greater power than the central government and had increase in power as time went on, there was a shift towards instability and conflict erupted. This conflict resulted in a war known as the Onin war (1467-1477). During this time as the provincial warlords gained power and caused instability, the Akishaga shogunate collapsed during this time and the city of Kyoto, Japan was destructed. The country of Japan then was involved in war that lasted a century, which was known as Sengoku. This period of war took place from the last quarter of the fifteenth to the end of the sixteenth century.

PAINTING HISTORY
Awataguchi Takamitsu was a court painter during the Ashikaga period. This Ashikaga period produced Yamatao-e and many artists painted Yamatao-e on scrolls, sliding doors and screens. Some of the paintings that exist today of Awataguchi Takamitsu were found on scrolls. These scrolls keep on the traditional Japanese style, have weak lines and coloring. These Yamatoe-e from the Ashikaga period when compared to those today are different even with the Zen feeling which was prevalent during the Ashikaga period. The history of the Yamatoe-e art of the Ashikaga period isn’t in the kama kura scroll format but is in a series of pictures that are separately represented. These period had representations of pictures on scrolls, and screens. One of the works of Awataguchi Takamitsu were referred to in the diary of Prince Sadashige Fushimi which was known as "Kanbun-gyoki" and was described as scroll paintings known as "Ashibiki-ye." According to these scrolls and the story that is narrated through the art it can be deduced that it is telling the story of romance or romantic endeavors and attachments of a young temple page in Nara and an Eizan Monastery priest in Kyoto. This type of story is known as a “Chigo-monogataris” story. In this story the priest from the Eizan Monastery in Kyoto is described as the hero and this is presumed to be the place where the painting was made. In Prince Fushimi’s diary the "Ashibiki-ye” are summarized as five volumes of scrolls that were painted by a court painter known as Awataguchi Takamitsu and these were painted in the Ouei period in Japanese history. Prince Fushimi went on to say that these paintings by Takamitsu were stored in the Eizan Monastery until the ninth year of Eikyo (1436 A.D.) when the fourth volumes text was removed so that it would be re written by the Emperor at that time, Emperor Gohanazono. At the time or ceremony that the text of the fourth volume was to be written again by Emperor Gohanazono, the pictures of the five volumes were instead copied by the emperor and kept for himself. In the tenth of Eikyo complete sets of scrolls were made by the emperor and texts were added to them. Emperor Gonahazono wrote the texts in the first and fifth scrolls originally made by Awataguchi Takamitsu himself, and had Prince Sadashige and the other court nobles write the rest of them. The pictures in the second scroll of the five was repainted by Mochimori but it is unknown who colored the pictures in the rest of the scrolls. In relation to this record, two volumes of the "Ashibiki-ye” scrolls by Awataguchi Takamitsu were created during the Ouei and Eikyo ages. These scrolls have been recently found are in the possession of Mr. Ichizo Kobayashi. These scrolls which are in Mr. Kobayashi’s possession are re written or redrawn and not the work of Emperor Gohanazanos version or Awataguchi Takamitsu’s version. The "Ashibiki-ye” scrolls possessed by Mr. Kobayashi look like they were done by one person and one hand and those two sets of scrolls mentioned were written by more than one hand at the same time. In looking at this "Ashibiki-ye” scrolls and taking into account their contents, story and the style in which the story is represented and told, it can be concluded that these scrolls are copies of Awataguchi Takamitsu’s scrolls that were reproduced later but not very late and so are assigned to the early ages of the Ashikage/Muromachi period. These "Ashibiki-ye” scrolls are attributed with being the oldest. Other authentic artistic work attributed to Awataguchi Takamitsu are found in the “Yuzu-nenbutsu-engi” scrolls which are a collection of the Seiryoji temple. These “Yuzu-nenbutsu-engi” scrolls were compared to the “Ashibiki-ye” scrolls that are in the collection of Mr. Ichizo Kobayashi and similarities were noted between the “Ashibiki-ye” scrolls and the “Yuzu-nenbutsu-engi” scrolls in the technique and composition of the artistry. When it came to the aesthetic value of the two it was noted that the “Ashibiki-ye” scrolls surpassed the “Yuzu-nenbutsu-engi” scrolls. With this comparison in aesthetic, technique, and composition between the “Ashibiki-ye” and the “Yuzu-nenbutsu-engi” scrolls attributed to Awataguchi Takamitsu it can be concluded that the “Ashibiki-ye” scroll in Mr. Ichizo Kobayashi’s possession are not the original scroll paintings of Awataguchi Takamitsu but are copies of the original “Ashibiki-ye” scrolls. Though the “ Ashibiki-ye” scrolls in Mr. Kobayashi’s possession are regarded as copies, they are the only existing “Ashibiki-ye” scrolls and they are regarded with importance. The copied texts are used as standards in possible identification of other Awataguchi Takamitsu partial scroll copies that may be discovered or become available in the future.

INFLUENCE OF BUDDHISM
During the time that Awataguchi Takamitsu did most of his paintings, Yamatoe-e paintings were also being completed in large numbers. There were many artists during this Ashikaga period that continued to paint on sliding doors, on screens, and on scrolls. Although not regarded as inventive energy works of art, these paintings maintain the endurance of this particular traditional style way of painting. This can be attributed to the incompatibility between the Zen feeling that had a dominant influence on art during the Ashikaga period and the earlier Yamatoe style of art. Zen means meditation and this school of the Buddhism teaches that through the profound realization that one is an already enlightened being enlightenment is achieved. The Ashikaga/Muromachi period (1392 – 1573) had its on style of painting that can be compared to a renaissance of Chinese-style ink painting. Because of the popularity of Buddhism, and the Zen sect of Buddhism, and the support of Buddhism by the current rulers of Japan during the Ashikaga/Muromachi period, the teaching of the Zen doctrine through representation of Buddhism in paintings was widely accepted. Priest painters from this period who included the likes of Josetsu, Shubun, and Sesshu who are important Japanese landscapists and who represented Zen Buddhism can be used to showcase the representation of Zen Buddhism in paintings as illustrated in the paintings of Awataguchi Takamitsu. These Zen monks, as they are known expressed their religious doctrines, convictions, and views by painting in an evoking manner, and painted landscapes, and literary figures. This form of painting is characterized by emphasis on unfilled space, forceful quick brushstrokes, asymmetrical composition and the economy of execution. Since Buddhism was an integral part of Awataguchi Takamitsu’s paintings it is necessary to explore it to understand the reason behind his inclusion of his religion into his paintings. The Zen sect of Buddhism can be traced to have originated in India and came to Japan through China where it was formalized. In China, Zen was known as Chan and spread and was enthusiastically adopted in Japan spreading in the thirteenth century. The religion of Buddhism spread from China to Japan through educated immigrant Buddhist Chinese men who introduced Chinese philosophy, literature, calligraphy and ink painting to the Japanese followers of the Buddhist religion. Chan which then became Zen in Japan was widely received by the samurai class which had political power in Japan in the thirteenth century. Zen Buddhism then continued to grow and spread in Japan and was the most recognized and practiced form of Buddhism between the fourteenth and sixteenth century. The spread of Zen Buddhism in paintings was influenced by a small circle of elite Japanese men of the Ashikaga clan which had political power and influence over the country at the time of Awataguchi Takamitsu. The Ashikaga shoguns embraced art and culture through their private villas which elegantly showcased art and art appreciation visibly through architecture, design, calligraphy, flower arranging, preparation and food service, decorative arts, interior design, garden design and also painting.


BIBLIOGRAPHY
Minamoto, H. An illustrated History of Japanese Art. Japan: Kyoto K. Hoshino, 1935.

Munsterberg, Hugo. Arts of Japan An Illustrated History. Boston: Tuttle Pub, 1957.

Swann, Peters C. An Introduction to the Arts of Japan. 15 West 47th Street, New York3

6, New York: Frederick A. Praeger, inc.

References

  1. ^ 粟田口派 年譜的解説, Tsukuba University (retrieved on May 3, 2009)
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