Pavilion in a Beautiful Field (Shuyado)
Muromachi period, 15th century
Hanging scroll; ink and slight color on paper
scrolls (shigajiku) gained popularity among Japanese patrons in the fifteenth century.
Many works in this tradition are of a celebratory nature and center on the theme
of scholarly reclusion. When a study was built, its owner and his guests would gather
to name it and compose poetry to commemorate its completion. In this scroll, a study
is depicted in a serene and secluded landscape. The inscriptions were written by
two Japanese monks in which they appended themselves to a lineage of Chinese scholars
by referring to past writings.
The Ideal of the Male Scholar
At a number of periods in its history, Japan looked to China for cultural inspiration.
Male-favoring philosophies such as Confucianism were absorbed into Japanese thought,
and then further reinforced and normalized in Japan's artistic expression. In China,
intellectual life was exemplified by the male scholar-recluse, who withdrew from
mundane concerns and devoted himself to quiet study and contemplation. In Japan,
this ideal is reflected in works ranging from ink painting to tea ceremony utensils.