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The Arts of the Imperial Court | 8th–16th century

"The Arts of the Imperial Court | 8th–16th century"

Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 3  September 28, 2021 (Tue) - November 7, 2021 (Sun)

Excerpts from The Tale of Genji (detail), Attributed to Imperial Prince Son'en, Nanbokuchō period, 14th century

After emulating China for generations, the imperial court began to develop its own cultural identity around the 10th century. This movement was led by the court nobility serving the emperor. The body of work they produced — literature, calligraphy, painting, and elegantly decorated items for daily use — became one of Japan’s cultural foundations.

Even after the samurai gained more political power than the court in the 12th century, the court remained the home of high culture for centuries.

The different art forms of the court were closely related, with literature playing a central role. Previously the nobility wrote in Chinese, but the creation of a new writing system (kana) helped Japanese literature to flourish. Both noblemen and noblewomen wrote some of Japan’s most celebrated poetry and stories, including by the court lady Murasaki Shikibu. Scenes from literature were also shown in paintings and on furnishings, which the nobility commissioned for their mansions.

Major Work(s) on Exhibit 2 results
Designation Name Amount Creation Excavation Period Acquisition Ownership Comment
_MD_RECOMMEND Scenes from "The Tale of Genji" on Scattered Fans Muromachi period, 16th century
_MD_RECOMMEND Excerpts from "The Tale of Genji" Attributed to Imperial Prince Son'en (1298–1356) Nanbokuchō period, 14th century B-3292
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