samon 砂紋
KEY WORD : architecture / general terms
Also read shamon. Lit. sand crest. The technique of making a pattern or design in sand or gravel. The creation of large courtyards of raked gravel or sand originated at Shinto shrines and was adapted into the *yuniwa 斎庭 at the imperial palace in the Heian period. In the Muromachi period raked sand or gravel was often used to create the dry streams *karenagare 枯流 of dry landscape *karesansui 枯山水 gardens such as the one at the rear of the Daisen-in Houjou 大仙院方丈 at Daitokuji 大徳寺, Kyoto. Raked gravel plays a larger role on the front garden of the Daisen-in where it is the sole element of this dramatically simple design. Typically in such gardens, the gravel is raked into a series of ridges or ripples which suggest waves in a ocean, but may well be pure abstraction. Because of the intense concentration required to rake these long straight or curving lines of gravel, the maintenance of these gardens is considered part of Zen practice. By the Edo period many complex and decorative patterns were made. The checkerboard pattern at Fumon-in 普門院 at Toufukuji 東福寺 and the striped bands of sand at Jishouji 慈照寺, Kyoto, offer good examples. At Hounen-in 法然院, Kyoto, two rectangular mounds of sand are redesigned every few weeks to display seasonal or abstract patterns.


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