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Japanese calligraphy set: ink, ink stone, brushesNihonga, in other words Japanese painting, owes its origin to Chinese painting, from which it makes use of its material and tools.

This graphic art consists in using mineral pigments on paper or silk. Despite having integrated techniques from the West taught in China, Nihonga perpetuates the atmosphere of ancient painting, in colors and ways of brush strokes.

Several genres can be distinguished:

  • Yamato-e, Kara-e, Nanga-e, practiced by the learned people,
  • Ukiyo-e, style which was born in the age of Edo, depicting women and Kabuki actors,
  • Bujinga, devoted to the representation of flowers and birds.

As manufacturing of materials and supports fades, as well as most oral-tradition related productions, Nihonga catches up with western painting. The themes remain however different.

Nihonga painters often build up a set of paintings around a traditional theme: flower, bird, wind and moon, kachōfūgetsu.

Flower Bird Wind Moon - Ka Chō Fū Getsu - 花鳥風月

As time passes by, this genre expressed itself on a wide variety of supports: ceilings, walls, partition walls (fusuma), folding screens or small square-shaped cardboard supports, such as shikishi, or rectangle-shaped ones, like tanzaku.

A few symbolic pictures are suffiscient for suggesting rhythm of nature:

  • peony, which can be found in decorative artworks
  • cherry blossom, symbol of fleetingness
  • lotus, particulary important in the Buddhist iconography
  • plumtree blossom, among with orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum, from the traditional repertoire
  • carp, the favorite subject of Nihonga

Each artwork, whichever theme it has, shows a spirit ready to give way to pure pictural pleasure.

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