Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/84

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JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTS

way to Korea through Central Asia and China. Gonse had already pointed out that the earliest productions of this Buddhistic art in Japan are surprisingly like such works as the ruins of Borobudhur in Java, and especially those of Angkor in Kambodia, and are accordingly much more Indian than Chinese in character.[1] Friedrich Hirth has since then traced for us the probable path which this art-tradition took. The painter Wai-tschi I-song, whose works served the Koreans as models for their Buddhistic paintings, came from Khoten in Central Asia, where the princely court was noted for its love of art. Presumably the art which had been brought thither from India he transported to Tschang-an-fu, the capital of the seventh century, and from there it was propagated farther to Korea.[2] Buddhism was introduced into Japan in 552 and became the religion of the establishment in 624. Under the Emperor Kotoku (645-654) Japan received a constitution after the Chinese model.

To this Buddhistic, stiffly hieratic painting, there stood opposed from the start the vivacious, purely secular painting of the Chinese; but each had its own peculiar justification. Buddhistic painting, mindful of the mysteries it represented, always remained solemn and dignified, and occupied itself with the minutest elaboration and the richest ornamentation, heightened by the use of gold and brilliant colour. Chinese painting, on the contrary, being the fashionable pastime of the cultivated, followed the varying tendencies of the time and adapted itself to the tastes of different countries, preserving, however, its fundamental principle, namely, to strive for a bold, light, sure, and as far as possible individual touch. This affinity with calligraphy had the effect, not indeed of banishing colour altogether, but of making its interest for the most part

  1. Gonse, i. 166.
  2. F. Hirth, Über fremde Einflüsse in der chinesischen Kunst, p. 46.