Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties Center for Conservation Science
Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation
Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Study Report on the 16th Century Historical Materials Related to Noh Masks and Senmen: the First Seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Presentation about Noh masks

 Noh mask and Senmen (fan surface) are important study objects related to religion and celebrations from ancient times, from the viewpoint of not only Japanese art history, but also Japanese cultural history. OTANI Yuki (Research assistant of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) presented her research titled a Consideration on the Beshimi Mask Owned by Aizu Museum.

 This beshimi mask is from the Inaba family, the lord of the Usuki domain in Bungo Province. It has some inscriptions, such as “made by Sakai Sōzaemon”. The okina mask owned by the Nagataki Hakusan Shrine in Gifu and the okina mask owned by the Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima are objects related to the beshimi mask from the Inaba family. It is interesting that they were devoted to the same petitioner of the beshimi in a similar period. OTANI studied the form of these beshimi masks as masks for devotion in the Muromachi period and considered them to be made in the transitional period to the Chorei Beshimi type. In this presentation, we invited Mr. ASAMI Ryusuke of the Tokyo National Museum as a commentator. He talked about the importance and challenges of the Noh masks study. He also pointed out the issues of regionality and acceptance of this mask’s craftsmanship.

 Following this, ONO Mayumi (Head of the Japanese and East Asian Art History Section) conducted a presentation titled Ōgiya Sōkyū, a painter mentioned in Kanemikyōki. Kanemikyōki is a diary of YOSHIDA Kanemi (1535-1610), a shinkan (priest) of the Yoshida Shrine in Kyoto. It is a precious historical source that tells us of the movements of court nobles and sengoku warlords. Among the people related to YOSHIDA, she focused on Kanō Sōkyū (Ōgiya Sōkyū), a painter mentioned more than 10 times in this diary. She found a relationship between court nobles and Ōgiya that was unknown earlier. Kanemi presented senmen made by Sōkyū to the houses of Oda, Toyotomi, Maeda, and others. Furthermore, YOSHIDA built a close relationship with Sōkyū by inviting him to dinner and banquets. With these facts, ONO added a new consideration to the importance and role of the painter Ōgiya.

The 55th Public Lecture

Lecture by KOBAYASHI Tatsuro
Lecture by YASUNAGA Takuyo

 The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems conducted a public lecture titled “Look at Form, Read Form” on November 5th, 2021. The “Public Lecture” is conducted every autumn over the course of two days, and a wide range of audiences are invited to attend lectures presented by researchers on their work. However, this year, as with the preceding year, we shortened the period to one day with only two lecturers from our institute to follow COVID-19 prevention measures. The audience was limited to 30 people, and they were selected by raffle. In the venue, temperature checks were conducted and the speakers and audiences were requested to wear masks and sanitize their hands.
 The following two lectures were conducted by members of our department: “Emergence and its Meaning of Amida Paintings All in Gold – Representation of Time Spirit in Transition Period” by KOBAYASHI Tatsuro, Head, Japanese and East Asian Art History Section; and “‘Hanshan and Shide’ Painted by Yosa Buson at Myōhōji Temple in Kagawa – Study for Restoration Utilizing Image Materials” by YASUNAGA Takuyo, Senior Researcher.
 “KOBAYASHI discussed the Amida pictures of the Kamakura period—painted and plated in all gold—in light of the transition of the time spirit. Special emphasis was placed on how Amida emerged alongside the doctrine of original enlightenment (hongaku), which dominated Tendai Buddhism.” YASUNAGA introduced the ongoing restoration work of “Hanshan and Shide”—an Important Cultural Property owned by the Myōhōji Temple in Marugame city, Kagawa Prefecture—which was partially damaged by age. The old monochrome films shot decades ago by Tobunken have been used for this restoration with the high-definition images that Tobunken pictured recently.
 Questionnaire survey responses from the audience show that 85% participants were “satisfied” or “generally satisfied” with the lecture.

The 53rd Open Lecture

Ongoing open lecture

 The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems organized a two-day open lecture on November 1st and 2nd, 2019 in the seminar room of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. Every autumn, the Institute invites the public to attend presentations delivered by its researchers, along with outside lecturers, on the outcomes of their daily research. This program is held not only as part of the Lecture Series of the Ueno no Yama Cultural Zone Festival organized by Taito City but is also associated with Classics Day on November 1st each year.
 This year, the lectures covered four topics: Five Hundred Luohan Passed Down by Daitoku-ji Temple and Rules of Purity for the Chan Monastery (Chanyuan qinggui): Depiction of Monastic Life” (MAIZAWA Rei, Researcher of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems); “The Shape of the Seated Amitabha Statue Placed in the Lecture Hall of Koryu-ji Temple and Its Reflecting Wishes–Based on the Portrait of the Petitioner, ‘Nagahara no Miyasudokoro’” (Dr, HARA Hirofumi, Teacher of Keio Shiki Senior High School); “Research and Study of the Minakuchi Rapier, the Only Western-style Sword Handed Down to the Present Time in Japan” (KOBAYASHI Koji, Head of the Trans-Disciplinary Research Section, Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems); and “The Front Line of the Study of Swords at SPring-8: Towards the Education Breakthrough of the Production Technology” (Dr. TANAKA Manako, Department of History and Culture, Showa Women’s University). The first two lectures were delivered on November 1st and the latter two the following day. Across both days, 151 people were in attendance. According to the results of the questionnaire survey, nearly 90% of the audience responded “satisfied” or “almost satisfied.” Thus, the Institute provided the public with a good opportunity to learn the cultural properties with interest by disclosing the research trends and new findings of our researchers.

Reading Books on the Art of Painting by the Early Modern Tosa School – Seminar by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Ongoing seminar
Shukou Meijun-zu (Quails in Autumn Field)” Painted by TOSA Mitsuoki and TOSA Mitsunari possessed by the Tokyo National Museum:

 For the monthly seminar by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held on June 26th, 2018, Senior Researcher Mayumi ONO delivered a presentation titled “Study of “Honcho Gaho Taiden” written by TOSA Mitsuoki – Getting “Gaguseihou Heisenhou Gokuhiden” as a Clue” with Ms. Miho SHIMOHARA (Kagoshima University) as commentator.
 TOSA Mitsuoki (1634-1654) is a painter regarded as “a contributor to the revival of the Tosa family” since he reacquired the position of court painter (edokoro azukari) that had for many years been held by the Tosa family. Mitsuoki painted lots of new and elegant works by introducing Song and Yuan painting styles and sketches into the traditional Yamato-e painting.
 Honcho Gaho Taiden (possessed by Tokyo University of the Arts) is one of the books on brushwork written by Mitsuoki representing the early modern period. For this seminar, the coloring method mentioned in this book was compared to those referred to in the books on the art of painting at the Kano school: Honcho Gaden by KANO Einou and Gasen by HAYASI Moriatsu, and sketches by KANO Tsunenobu which are owned by the Tokyo National Museum. For example, as for the color called urumi, Mitsuoki wrote that “after applying cochineal red, indigo blue is attained.” However, the books on brushwork for the Kano school indicate another method under which whitewash is mixed. Accordingly, when referring to Tsunenobu’s sketches, urumi is mentioned as notes of Yamabato-zu (picture of turtledoves) and Kuzu-zu (picture of arrowroots). It turns out that actual colors unique to turtledove legs and arrowroot flowers are consistent with the coloring method Mitsuoki wrote about. These comparisons have clarified that the contents of Honcho Gaho Taiden are more practical and concrete than those of the other brushwork books.
 At the seminar, various comments were offered from the viewpoints of the Tosa, Sumiyoshi, and Kano schools, as well as research on Japanese-style painting. By further studying Mitsuoki’s book along with these researchers, the study of brushwork in the Edo period is expected to advance.

The Forefront of Research on Sesshu – The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems Organizes a Workshop

Landscape “Haboku-sansui” by Sesshu (partial) owned by TNM (picture provided by TNM)

 Sesshu Toyo went to China (Ming) and made a serious career of ink brush painting. Materials on Sesshu’s entry into Ming include “Tenkai togaro ki” by Baifu Ryoshin and Sesshu’s painting “landscape” including his inscription (commonly called the Painting “Haboku-sansui” owned by the Tokyo National Museum (TNM)). Mr. Yu HASHIMOTO (Hokkaido University) presented his theory that Sesshu proactively went to Ming from the standpoint of Japan-Ming history research in his papers titled “Reexamination of Sesshu’s Travel to Ming China” (Studies in Art History 33, March 2017). Regarding “之” of “向者、大明国北京礼部院、於中堂之壁、尚書姚公、命公令画之” in “Tenkai togaro ki,” he pointed out that it was the theme of the painting drawn by Sesshu in the interior wall of lǐbu(礼部) in Beijing and assumed that it was an image of Zhôngkui(鍾馗) and as collateral evidence, and he discussed the relations between Zhôngkui and Chinese higher civil service examinations and lǐbu. Furthermore, the part “於茲長有声并李在二人得時名、相随伝設色之旨兼破墨之法兮” of Sesshu’s inscription in “Sansuizu” was read as the fact that Zhang Yousheug and Li Zai learned the traditional painting style by following each other unlike the traditional interpretation of “Sesshu’s studying under Zhang Yousheug and Li Zai.”
 In response to this discussion, Mr. Minoru WATADA, Cultural Affairs Agency, scrutinized Hashimoto’s views of “Tenkai togaro ki” and Sesshu’s inscription in “landscape” in a presentation entitled “On the Occasion of Yu HASHIMOTO’s ‘Reexamination of Sesshu’s Travel to Ming China’” at a workshop organized by the Department on August 7th. We invited Mr. Arata SHIMAO, Gakushuin University, as the moderator, Mr. Koji ITO, Kyushu University, Mr. Hitoshi YONETANI, Waseda University, Ms. Makiko SUDA and Mr. Makoto OKAMOTO, Historiographical Institute, The University of Tokyo, as commentators and views and opinions from the perspectives not only of art history but also of historiography and philological history were exchanged in the workshop.
 Mr. Watada read in the past “命公令画之” in “Tenkai togaro ki” as “之に画く” in the book titled “Sesshu and Japanese Kanga Painters (Brücke, 2013) and if it is “之を画く” as traditionally interpreted, he raised a question as to Hashimoto’s view that “之” is “墨鬼鍾馗” right before it. Many of the participants in the workshop expressed their views that there was no way to determine what “之” points to only through interpretation based on grammar and pointed out that there was room for restudy of the validity of making the theme of the painting an image of Zhôngkui. Based on the collateral evidence shown by Mr. Hashimoto and other evidence, some noted that the possibility of the theme of the painting being an image of Zhôngkui cannot be denied categorically, either. The participants concluded that seeking a possible interpretation and the theme of the painting that is appropriate for lǐbu would be future challenges to be addressed.
 Furthermore, regarding the subject of “相随伝” written in the inscriptions, Mr. Watada read it as Sesshu, considering the fact that the subject after “余曽入大宋国” was supposed to be “余,” namely, Sesshu. So he took the position of reading Sesshu’s studying under Zhang Yousheug and Li Zai as traditionally interpreted. As opposed to this, many of participants in the workshop expressed views that there was a contradiction in terms of the structure of a sentence in the traditional theory and ended up supporting Mr. Hashimoto’s interpretation. It remains unknown why Sesshu illustrated two painters, that is, Zhang Yousheug and Li Zai , but if you pay attention to “数年而帰本邦地、熟知吾祖如拙周文両翁製作楷模,” as “長有声并李在” and “如拙周文” become paired, it is safe to say that Sesshu intended to make “如拙周文” stand out. Mr. Watada pointed out that unless you make the one that did “相随伝” Sesshu, it did not agree with the description of “至于洛求師,” namely, Sesshu sought a teacher in China. Mr. Shimao, who served as the moderator, suggested clichés be distinguished in text and it was an opportunity to share the recognition that studies are needed from an extensive perspective that is not confined to reading or interpreting of historiographic materials.
Thanks to the question raised by Mr. Watada, the participants were able to share the possibility and amplitude of interpretation of historiographical materials yet again. We can look forward to future developments in research on Sesshu.

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