Amiha 阿弥派
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
A school of painting that arose in Kyoto during the 15c, separate from the dominant painting ateliers of the Zen 禅 monasteries that revitalized ink painting during the 15c and 16c. The school consisted of three generations of artistic advisors and artists in the employ of the Ashikaga 足利 shoguns, *douboushuu 同朋衆, known as the san'ami 三阿弥. All three incorporated into their names the Chinese characters 'ami ' 阿弥 from the name of the Buddha *Amida 阿弥陀. The term, Amiha, however, is modern. The three Amis (and their contemporaries) apparently did not consider themselves a school as such nor did they take on disciples. Nouami 能阿弥 (1397-1471), also known as Shinnou 真能, served the Ashikaga shogunate during the first part of the Muromachi period; he functioned as a curator of art objects in the shogun's collection. Nouami's many talents included ink painting *suibokuga 水墨画, poetry, landscape gardening, and the practice of tea *channoyu 茶湯. There are numerous paintings traditionally attributed to Nouami, but many are of questionable provenance. The most widely accepted work attributed to him is the *Byakue Kannon 白衣観音, a painting in ink on silk with an inscription by the artist that includes the date 1468. This work blends Chinese academic styles *intaiga 院体画, of the Southern Song dynasty. In 1480, Geiami 芸阿弥 painted a hanging scroll "Viewing a Waterfall" Kanbaku-zu 観瀑図 (Nezu 根津 Museum, Tokyo), in the Southern Song Academic style using ink and faint colors, this work meant as a farewell gift to his student Kenkou Shoukei 賢江祥啓 (fl. ca. 1478-1506). Shoukei, after his return to Kamakura, transmitted Geiami's style to the next generation of painters at Kenchouji 建長寺 in Kanagawa prefecture. The leading artist among the recorded members of this family is Geiami's son, Souami 相阿弥 (ca.1455-1525), also known as Shinsou 真相. Souami, who served as curator to the shogunal collection, authenticated many Chinese paintings and often added attributions to scrolls. As a painter, Souami continued the hard-edge style of academic painting that Geiami and Nouami had employed, but also adopted a soft style of painting that combined the soft and cursive brushwork of Muqi (Jp: Mokkei 牧谿, fl. late 13c) with the rich ink washes and dots of the Mi (Jp: bei 米) style, as well as some features of Korean paintings. Souami also integrated some compositional elements of the *yamato-e やまと絵 tradition into this second style of painting. The soft style was emulated by a number of important painters of the 16c, including Kanou Motonobu 狩野元信 (1476-1559; see *Kanouha 狩野派). Souami left a fair number of paintings, his most well-known work being the sliding door paintings *fusuma-e 襖絵, in the Daisen-in 大仙院 of Daitokuji 大徳寺 in Kyoto. One of the most important contributions of the Ami painters was their work in connoisseurship. In addition to their critical appraisals of shogunal art objects, they were responsible for two major documents on Chinese painting. Nouami compiled the GYOMOTSU ON-E MOKUROKU 御物御絵目録, an inventory of selected Chinese paintings in the Ashikaga collection. The KUNDAIKAN SOUCHOUKI 君台観左右帳記, a connoisseur's manual with various later copies, has been attributed, traditionally, both to Nouami and to Souami. It ranks Chinese painters, giving instructions on the proper way to display art objects in a decorative alcove *toko 床, and on adjoining shelves *tana 棚 of *shoin 書院 rooms, and it comments on Chinese lacquerwork, ceramics, and bronzes. The Amiha did not continue beyond the end of the 16c, but it undoubtedly influenced subsequent Japanese painting, especially secular art of the late 16c and early 17c.


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