Heian Japan: an obsession


From the Genji emaki (Genji scrolls) circa 12th century (image from Wikipedia)

The Tale of Genji, written early 11th century
The Heian period is considered to be Japan's classical era when arts and culture flourished and a distinctly Japanese identity took shape. It spanned the years 794 to 1185 AD
 (wikipedia will go into more depth than me).

There were notably a number of renowned women authors contemporary to the time. I fell in love with the literature in my early college days and have since collected any book I could find (and afford!) that was either written in Heian Japan, or provided historical reference. (I've also ventured into the Nara and Kamakura eras which preceded and succeeded Heian).

So many left on the "wish list"...

The obsession did not end with literature, however. I became fascinated with other Heian art forms, particularly illustrations. The illustrations depicting scenes and characters from tales are usually done in a style known as Yamato-e, which I find to be ineffably beautiful. 
Here is my hand at replicating the style:


The above is a colored pencil study. These ladies appear in the 12th century Genji scroll "Bamboo River". The faces depicted in tale illustrations are quite deliberately drawn in a simple and elegant manner, reflecting the "peace and tranquility" of Heian (which means peace).

My beloved Genji scroll book from Japan next to images from another famous 12th century scroll, the Choju-giga.


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