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Hanging scroll Chinese landscape

Also called, sansuiga, hanging scroll Chinese landscape paintings is a genre of artwork that has developed in China. San means mountain, sui means river and ga means picture. Landscape painting aims to replicate the actual scenery, but in return, captures more through ‘image scenery.’ Other elements like mountains, rocks and trees were constituted to heighten the landscape’s realism. Japanese scenery paintings roots can be traced back from the Chinese, but the Japanese doesn’t have a corresponding word for fukeiga (fukei – scenery/ga - picture); such as that when Japanese create landscape paintings, they rely most on the scene’s beauty rather than the realism of conventional Chinese landscape.

Landscape scrolls in Japan focus more on impressionism, using different subjects like misty forests, floating clouds and pristine waterfalls. Their scroll paintings were not as detailed as western landscapes, but rather meant to create a feeling for the viewers. China’s landscapes, however, are often accompanied with poems or descriptions about the scenery being painted.

Woodblock landscape prints became popular because it is inexpensive, and gives common people a taste of fine art in their homes. Before the west arrived, led by Commander Perrys Black in 1852, the heart of woodblock printing was in Kyoto. Travelers used to love to buy woodblock book prints to take home, and as a reminder of the great trip they had. Through modernism, Japanese nowadays still love to travel, but many of them just take pictures of the sceneries instead of buying book prints as a commemoration of the trip.

Most of the great artworks from woodblock artists reached Europe in the 19th century and signaled the progression of impressionism style. Modern arts of the 20th century also borrowed some style from traditional woodblock prints. One of the most important artworks those days is the Pine of Takasago and Jo and Uba. The painting is a scene from Noh play that tells the story of the Legend of Takasago about an eternal couple. Jo and Uba who fell in love at a young age, and lived until they were old, died and their spirits were said to frequent pine trees, and the beaches of Takasago, Harima and Sumiyoshi. Jo and Uba were regarded as the God and Goddess of marriage.

The use of plants and animals were also associated in landscape paintings. These particular creatures have deep symbolism that people paid respect to. Chidori and Waves, Swallow and Willow, Peacock and Peony and Boar and Lespedeza are few of the animal + plant associations in early paintings.


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