aware あわれ
KEY WORD : art history / general terms
The capacity to be moved deeply, an aesthetic ideal associated with Heian period literature and aristocratic values. An empathetic response to the ephemerality of existence, aware usually implies sadness, although implications of joy and amazement are also possible. The word, a conjunction of the exclamations a あ and hare はれ, first appeared in the MAN'YOUSHUU 万葉集, but reached its peak of popularity in GENJI MONOGATARI 源氏物語 (The Tale of Genji, see *genji-e 源氏絵), where it is used 1,044 times as either a noun, a verb, awarebu あわれぶ, or as adjectival phrases, awarenaru あわれなる and awareto あわれと. Aware was used often as a critical term, hanshi 判詞, in poetry competitions, utaawase 歌合, and also appears in waka 和歌 criticism such as Fujiwara Shunzei's 藤原俊成 (1114-1204) KORAI FUUTAISHOU 古来風体抄 and later in theory on linked-verse, renga 連歌. In this linked-verse usage, aware acquired a connotation of elegant beauty. Although aware most properly distinguishes an internal, personal response to external phenomena, the association of the term with ephemeral beauty had repercussions for Heian art, adding a layer of depth to the outer expression of courtliness *miyabi 雅. The presence of aware in literature, such as The Tale of Genji and The Tales of Ise (see *ise monogatari-e 伊勢物語絵) then provided subjects for various forms of art, including painting, thus extending the influence of aware well beyond the Heian period. The phrase mono no aware もののあわれ (the pathos of things), was used by Motoori Norinaga 本居宣長 (1730-1801) to distinguish the broader Heian use of the term from the personal and idiosyncratic Edo period usage.


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