sansuiga 山水画
KEY WORD :  art history / paintings
Ch: shanshuihua. Lit. mountain and water painting. Far Eastern painting of an idealized nature. Although landscape painting is the usual translation, the term fuukeiga 風景画 is closer to the term landscape in the sense of Western landscape painting. The term sansuiga is applied to Chinese, Korean, and Japanese painting which depicts an idealized image primarily using the forms of mountains, rivers, clouds and natural features such as rocks and trees. One of the three major subject categories of Far Eastern painting, along with figure painting jinbutsuga 人物画 and bird and flower painting *kachouga 花鳥画. Although the representation of landscape had a long history in China, only in the 11c did it become the dominant subject of mainstream painting. Sometimes called the most characteristic or the chief glory of the entire Chinese painting tradition, landscape painting is said to provide not only a mirror of the natural world but a means of expressing human thought and abstract or philosophical principles. Although landscape painting was stimulated by Taoist attitudes toward nature, it also served an important role in Buddhist and Confucian contexts. The Song dynasty (11c-13c) saw the development of basic compositional types and methods of brushwork. In the eyes of later critics, the period generated the two basic approaches to landscape painting, namely Northern School painting *hokushuuga 北宗画 or the Academy style *intaiga 院体画, and Southern School painting *nanshuuga 南宗画 or the literati tradition *bunjinga 文人画. In Japan, landscapes served first as settings in Buddhist paintings as influenced by the blue-and-green landscapes *seiryoku sansui 青緑山水 of the Tang dynasty. In the late Heian period, with the trend to assimilate and naturalize Chinese cultural forms, Japanese scenery came to be depicted in pictures of seasonal themes *shiki-e 四季絵 and famous places *meisho-e 名所絵), and these came to be the favoured subject matter for *yamato-e やまと絵. In these paintings, the artist's primary interest lay in depicting religious figures or peoples' activities in a conventionalized, naturalistic setting rather than in the landscape itself. With the large-scale importation of Song and Yuan painting *sougenga 宋元画 from the 14c, primarily by Zen 禅 priests, the Japanese discovered ink-monochrome landscapes which represent an ideal of the natural, with human figures in a subservient or non-existent role or completely absent. Artists such as Shuubun 周文 (act. mid-15c) painted distinctive ink landscapes *suibokuga 水墨画. Others used and gradually modified Chinese motifs and ink techniques to create such idealized visions as that of a scholar's studio deep in the mountains *shosai-zu 書斎図. Sesshuu 雪舟 (1420-1506), while he was inspired both by Song-Yuan painting and contemporary Zen 禅 school models, began the dramatic transformation of Chinese styles that was to reach its apogee in the large-scale landscapes of the Kanou school *Kanouha 狩野派. Many of the techniques employed by Muromachi painter-priests and professional ateliers of the Momoyama and Edo periods derived from the Song academy or Northern school styles (see *kanga 漢画). On the other hand, 18c Japanese literati painters, such as Ike no Taiga 池大雅 (1723-76) and Uragami Gyokudou 浦上玉堂 (1745-1820), adapted aspects of the Chinese Southern school style into what is known as the southern or *nanga 南画 tradition. By the late 18c, new influences from Western realism transformed much of Japanese landscape painting from a conceptual or idealized image of nature to naturalistic views of real locations.

*shinkei-zu 真景図
sansui-zu 山水図 伝周文筆 竺雲等連賛 at Tokyo National Museum

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