bunbougu 文房具
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
A general term for objects like brushes, paper, ink *sumi 墨, and inkstone *suzuri 硯 that are associated with reading, calligraphy, and painting. In China wenfang (Jp: bunbou 文房, writing room) originally referred to a room in the palace used for writing. During the 7-8c, the room came to be used as a study for the appreciation of paintings and calligraphy. Soon after, the studies of the literati were called bunbou and the implements that they employed for calligraphy and painting came to be referred to as bunbougu with the brush, inkstone, paper, and ink specifically termed *bunbou shihou 文房四宝 (four treasures of the writing room). From the 17c on, the category of bunbougu came to include seals *inshou 印章, seal paste, brush cases, water droppers *suiteki 水滴, arm rests, and paper weights *bunchin 文鎮. Also included are antiques such as ceramics and metal utensils and strangely-shaped rocks to be placed in the garden or set on the desk. Ink and brushes were transmitted to Japan via Korea in the 6c, and by the late 8c ink was being made in Japan. But the accompanying bunbougu accouterments of Chinese literati culture did not become popular until the 14c, a period when Chinese learning was highly sought after and copied in Japan.


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