edokoro 絵所
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Also written 画所. An atelier producing paintings and painted decoration for the court and nobility, located at the palace from the mid 9c onward. Later such ateliers were also affiliated with retired emperors, the shogunate, and major temples and shrines. The official court atelier (kyuutei-edokoro 宮廷絵所 or usually just edokoro) was established in 808 and officially abolished in 1868. It took over many aspects of the Nara period Bureau of Painting edakumi-no-tsukasa 画工司. According to the 10c SEIKYUUKI 西宮記 (also read SAIGUUKI), a record of ceremonies during the reign of Emperor Murakami 村上 (926-67), the edokoro was organized under an administrator bettou 別当, a courtier holding the fifth rank, kuroudo 蔵人, who guided a designated head painter edokoro-azukari 絵所預 and experienced painters *sumigaki 墨画. Under the sumigaki worked many assistants including painters, pigment preparers, mounters, termed naiju 内豎 and jusshoku 熟食. From 12c the leadership azukari 預, of the edokoro always went to a practicing master painter who was usually the head of a family of professional painters. While no one family dominated the court atelier, the Kose family *Koseha 巨勢派 produced several generations of master painters at the edokoro from the 9c to 12c. From the 15c members of the Tosa family *Tosaha 土佐派 came to inherit the leadership of the court atelier.
From the mid Heian period well into the early modern period, the court and aristocracy commissioned edokoro painters to create major types of secular painting including screens *shouji-e 障子絵 and handscrolls *emaki 絵巻, as well as the designs and decoration for furnishings and interiors. Of course when the nobility erected private temples or donated images and furnishings they also often called upon edokoro artists and decorators. Most scholars, however, consider the important work of the official court atelier and most later edokoro to be secular in theme and function. The Heian tradition of painting in the *yamato-e やまと絵 style continued through the centuries at the court atelier. Even in the Muromachi period the Tosa painters worked in a refined, miniaturist and gilded version of the Heian courtly style.
From the late 12c onward retired emperors supported their own edokoro. Major temples also established a system of ateliers staffed with professional Buddhist painters *ebusshi 絵仏師 under their patronage. The edokoro at Touji 東寺 and at Koufukuji 興福寺 in Nara are representative examples of major studio organizations. Some of the same lines of painters that were active at the court atelier also came to work as Buddhist painters, especially as the old aristocracy fell on hard times from the late Kamakura period. For example Kose painters worked at Koufukuji's edokoro from the mid 13c onward.
Major shrines like the Kasuga 春日 and Gion 祇園 also posessed edokoro. Painters and decorators working in Nara at the *nanto-edokoro 南都絵所 affiliated with Koufukuji or Toudaiji 東大寺 in the middle of the 14c, organized into hereditary painting guilds like the *Shibaza 芝座. In the mid 15c the Ashikaga 足利 shoguns patronized Tosa family artists usually appointing them official painters *goyou-eshi 御用絵師. In addition major artists of the Soutan, Soutanha 宗湛派 and later Kanou families *Kanouha 狩野派 who worked in the *kanga 漢画 style also undertook official commissions for the shogunate as goyou-eshi. These family workshops, under official patronage, are often designated edokoro or bakufu-edokoro 幕府絵所. In the 17c the Tokugawa 徳川 continued the earlier edokoro system by patronizing the Kanou families, along with Sumiyoshi family artists *Sumiyoshiha 住吉派. The Sumiyoshi followed Tosa traditions and continued to paint many of classical subjects in basically the same yamato-e style as painters of the official court atelier in the Heian period.


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