setsuwaga 説話画
KEY WORD :  art history / paintings
The painting of any kind of narrative story such as popular folk tales, war stories, novels, diaries, etc. The term has come to be used in recent years in particular for Japanese painting from the ancient and middle ages. The most common examples consist of illustrations for Buddhist texts and biographies of Buddha and his followers, or the legends of temples *bukkyou setsuwa-zu 仏教説話図. In its narrowest sense setsuwaga is applied to Heian period illustrations of short tales about common people, which are differentiated from illustrations for novels monogatari-e 物語絵. The format for narrative painting varies from small paintings on scrolls *emaki 絵巻 and booklets *sassubon 冊子本, to full-scale hanging scrolls, and on walls or screens. In scroll painting, text *kotobagaki 詞書 most often precedes an illustration so that the text alternates with the pictures. In large scale painting, the text often appears in squares at the top of the painting in different colors. This technique is modeled on *shikishigata 色紙形. In wall-hanging narrative painting, especially after the 14c. there may be no text or text that is entirely separate so that a specially trained narrator can recite the story to an audience seated before the painting. This tradition is called *etoki 絵解.


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