fugaku-zu 富嶽図
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Depictions of Mt. Fuji 富士, painted from the Heian period to modern times in a variety of contexts. A usually quiet (but still regarded as active) volcano, the highest and most famous peak in Japan. Mt. Fuji serves as an important image and religious symbol in Japanese culture, especially in literature. Early representations of Mt. Fuji have extensive religious or literary associations. The oldest extant visual representations of Mt. Fuji occurs in The Biography of Prince Shoutoku Shoutoku Taishi e-den 聖徳太子絵伝 (1069), which originally decorated the walls of the Picture Hall E-dono 絵殿 in Houryuuji 法隆寺 (Tokyo National Museum). Famous literary figures such as the poets Ariwara no Narihira 在原業平 (825-80) and Saigyou 西行 (1118-90) wrote poems associated with Mt. Fuji, and paintings on the theme of Narihira viewing Mt. Fuji or Saigyou viewing Mt. Fuji were popular in the *yamato-e やまと絵 tradition. Over the centuries images of Mt. Fuji were incorporated within illustrations of classic tales such as The Tales of Ise handscroll Ise monogatari emaki 伊勢物語絵巻 (Kubo Sou 久保惣 Memorial Museum, Osaka; see *Azumakudari 東下り) and in other illustrated handscrolls such as The Biography of Priest Ippen Ippen hijiri-eden 一遍聖絵伝 (1299; Kankikouji 歓喜光寺, Kyoto, see *Ippen 一遍). Artists considered Mt. Fuji a suitably famous subject for representation thanks to an expansion of the category of *meisho-e 名所絵, a style of painting that had originally used famous places nearer to the capital as their subject. Another standard yamato-e subject was hunting near Mt. Fuji Fuji makigari-zu 富士巻狩図. From ancient times, Mt. Fuji was worshipped as the embodiment of the god Asama (pronounced Sengen) Ookami 浅間大神. In the Heian period, artists sometimes painted Mt. Fuji with eight peaks to represent the eight-petalled lotus of the *Dainichi 大日 Buddha, and also Asama Ookami, a manifestation of Dainichi (see *honjibutsu 本地仏). In the *Fuji mandara 富士曼荼羅 of the Muromachi period, the convention of representing Fuji with three peaks was established. This image of a three-peaked mountain was based on the profile of Fuji seen from the shrine Fujisan Honguu Sengen Jinja 富士山本宮浅間神社. The three peaks also symbolize the Buddhist doctrine of isshin sangan 一心三観, a concept especially important in the Tendai 天台 sect which stressed meditation on "three viewpoints in a single thought," and related it to the esoteric idea of sanmitsu doutai 三密同体, or the three secrets of Buddha. The three-peak motif appears in yamato-e paintings and ink paintings from the Muromachi period. Ink painters such as Sesshuu 雪舟 (1420-1506), Souami 相阿弥 (?-1525) and Shoukei 祥啓 (fl. 1478-1506) were the first to begin to depict Fuji alone without earlier literary or narrative elements. In later years, Kanou Tan'yuu 狩野探幽 (1602-74) is known to have made ink, *sumi 墨, and wash sketches from real life observation, while the *Rinpa 琳派 school master, Soutatsu 宗達 (?-1643) and Ogata Kourin 尾形光琳 (1615-1716) used Mt. Fuji as a decorative motif. Towards the end of the Edo period, the old practice of painting from a model *funpom 粉本, which actually meant an imaginary stereotype, was replaced by a tendency to paint from life. Painters such as Shiba Koukan 司馬江漢 (1747-1818) and Aoudou Denzen 阿欧堂田善 (1748-1822) experimented with Western style realism (see *youfuuga 洋風画). Other artists such as the southern school *nanga 南画 painter, Ike Taiga 池大雅 (1723-76), or the *ukiyo-e 浮世絵 artists, Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾北斎 (1760-1849), and Utagawa Hiroshige 歌川広重 (1797-1858) created highly individualistic images of Mt. Fuji seen from various vantage points.


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