bokubai 墨梅
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Lit. ink plum. Ch: momei. Paintings of plum (actually prunus) rendered in sumi 墨 ink. Along with ink bamboo *bokuchiku 墨竹, and ink wild orchids *bokuran 墨蘭, the plum was a favorite theme of Chinese and Japanese literati painters. In Chinese culture, the plum has long been a symbol of ideal Confucian values. The gnarled trunk and delicate flowers that bloom during the coldest time of the year carry associations of longevity and renewal amid transience for Chinese and Japanese literati. Ink paintings of plums also served as idealized self-images of purity and seclusion. The plum is included among the *saikan sanyuu 歳寒三友 (three friends of wintry seasons), and the *shikunshi 四君子(four gentlemen). The Northern Song priest-painter Zhongren (Jp: Chuunin 仲仁 ; ?-1102?) and the Southern Song painter Yang Buzhi (Jp: You Hoshi 楊補之; 1097-1169) developed the pictorial theme, while the Yuan painter Wu Dasu (Jp: Go Daiso 呉大素; 1341-68) codified techniques and theories of plum painting in his treatise, Songzhai Meipu (Jp: Shousai Baifu 松斉梅譜). Monochrome plum painting was introduced to Japan in the 13c. The earliest extant Japanese paintings are two of a triptych of hanging scrolls with inscriptions by Hakuun Egyou 白雲恵暁, in the Rikkyokuan 栗棘庵 in Kyoto. The theme was rendered by many artists of the Muromachi period, including Kaou 可翁 (early 14c), Gyokuen Bompou 玉えん梵芳 (early 15c), Sesshuu 雪舟 (1420-1506), and Sesson 雪村 (1504?-1600?). Bokubai experienced a renew popularity among literati painters of the Edo period, although their models were often the paintings and printed manuals of late Ming dynasty painters. For instance, the 1749 screens by Sakaki Hyakusen 彭城百川(1697-1752) in the Sumitomo collection are based on the plum painting manual, Xuehu Maipu (Jp: Setsuko Baifu 雪湖梅譜) by the late Ming artist Liu Shiru (Jp: Ryuu Seiju 劉世儒; 1517-?).


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