Tokiwa Mitsunaga and Art in Twelfth Century Japan: High Culture of A Clouded Sky
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The twelfth-century Japanese artist, Tokiwa Mitsunaga, resided in a world of power politics related to blood and prestigious holy Buddhist temples. Sadly, the passages of time and the tragedy of fire means that originals perished. At the same time, many aspects of the life of Mitsunaga remain unknown and open to debate. However, despite this “clouded sky,” the legacy of Mitsunaga remains vivid in the circles of Japanese high culture based on artistic attributes, other artists, in literature, and the natural passages of history.
Mitsunaga is fondly remembered for the “Annual Rites and Ceremonies.” This work applies to sixty hand scrolls that were horizontal. Hence, people in modern times can see a glimpse of courtiers responding to natural ceremonies and chores that took place inside parts of the palace.
It is known that Mitsunaga worked with other esteemed twelfth-century Japanese artist. For example, Mitsunaga and Fujiwara Takanobu collaborated and painted the “Imperial Procession.” This work entailed a stunning piece of art that blessed sliding paper doors. In turn, these sliding paper doors illuminated high culture through the prism of art, culture, design, and space.
Sadly, the original “Annual Rites and Ceremonies” and “Imperial Procession” were lost to fire. However, like the Phoenix rises, then the same applies to the art of Mitsunaga because esteemed artists would copy from what was handed down. Hence, attributes and a clouded history connect people in modern times with the twelfth-century artist Mitsunaga.
It is also claimed that Mitsunaga painted the stunning and illuminating “Narrative Scroll of Ban Dainagon.” This work, in delightful colors, focuses on Tomo Yoshio and the downfall that impacted on this individual.
Overall, much remains open to debate and many areas of the life of Mitsunaga are clouded by the natural passages of time. Despite this, the legacy of Mitsunaga is strong in relation to Japanese high culture and art that is attributed to this thoughtful artist. Therefore, researching Mitsunaga and delving into the power dynamics of the twelfth century Japan comes alive through his art, despite the limited number of art pieces that are connected to Mitsunaga.
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