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Article

D. S. Rayevsky

Term used to describe an art dominated by animal themes, associated with a series of 1st-millennium bc cultures of the Eurasian steppes, extending from Central Europe to the Ordos region of north-west China.

The Animal style is characteristic of a series of cultures, including the Thracians (north Balkans), Savromats (lower reaches of the Don and Volga rivers), a people of the south Ural Mountains who are perhaps identifiable as the Issedones (Herodotus: Histories IV.26), the cultures of Tasmola (central Kazakhstan), Pazyryk (Altai Mountains) and Tagar (south Siberia), and other barrow (kurgan) burials in the Semirechiye (Seven Rivers) region of Kyrgyzstan and east Kazakhstan, the Pamirs and the Tien Shan Mountains. In Central Asia and the north Black Sea region, the Animal style is usually associated with nomadic tribes known in ancient Persian and Classical sources as the Sakas or Scythians (see Scythian and Sarmatian art), a term which loosely appears to refer to an eastern Iranian linguistic group....

Article

Fusuma  

Robert W. Kramer

Paper-covered, sliding door panel, used to separate spaces inside a Japanese dwelling. It is properly known as fusuma shōji (see Shōji) in Japanese. Panels may be removed when larger spaces are needed. While the shōji has a thin covering of paper on one side only, the fusuma is covered on both sides for greater privacy and so serves not only as a sliding door but also as a wall to the enclosure. Fusuma were commonly painted as part of a room decoration. Many examples of these painted panels may be found in temple complexes in Japan. Like multi-panel folding screens (byōbu), the fusuma were painted so that the scene extended from panel to panel. Handsome printed paper and gold leaf were also used to adorn the sliding doors. In many cases doors had decorated, indented metal handholds to permit opening and closing. In most structures three or four ...

Article

Oscar P. Fitzgerald

Technique for imitating Asian Lacquer. Once Dutch and Portuguese traders imported lacquer ware from the Far East after 1700, Europeans became fascinated by this technique. Originating in ancient China, it spread to Japan where it is still practiced in the 21st century. The process involved the application of up to a hundred coats of lacquer produced from the sap of the Rhus vernicifera tree, native to China, Malaya, and Japan. Despite attempts to discover the secret, Europeans could not duplicate the process. Since the sap quickly congeals it did not travel well and was toxic like poison ivy.

In 1688 A Treatise of Japanning and Varnishing by John Stalker and George Parker explained how to imitate the process by applying shellac dissolved in alcohol over a gessoed surface (see Stalker and Parker). Black was the most common color but red, white, blue, green, yellow, olive brown, and imitation tortoise shell (black streaked with vermillion) were also known. After designs were drawn on the surface, a mixture of red clay or sawdust, whiting, and gum arabic was daubed into the outlines and the raised images were sculpted with engraving tools and then colored with metal dust. A variation called ...

Article

Frances Wood

Hollow brick platform constructed against the interior façade wall of houses in northern China, beneath the lattice windows (see China, People’s Republic of §II 5., (ii)). Heated from the inside by small, free-standing braziers or flues connected to cooking stoves, kang are usually used as sleeping areas at night and seats during the day. They are usually the width of one bay (see China, People’s Republic of §II 1., (i)) and about 1 m high and 1.5 m deep. Kang are not found in the warmer areas of southern China, south of the Yangzi River. Evidence from pottery models of houses found in tombs suggests that kang existed during the Han period (206 bcad 220); they are still found in the countryside, though they are rare in cities. The decline of kang in urban areas probably began with the introduction of movable Western-style furniture in the 1920s....

Article

Joan H. O’Mara

Japanese paintings or woodblock prints depicting famous poets and poetesses often accompanied by the inscription of their names, with or without additional biographical information, and representative verses. By integrating calligraphy, poetry and painting in a single format, kasen’e (‘pictures of poetic immortals’) illustrate well the close interrelationship between these three art forms.

Originally the poets and poetesses designated in kasen’e as sages or ‘immortals’ (kasen) were accomplished masters of waka, the 31-syllable Japanese poetic form (also called tanka). According to tradition, a debate over the merits of various waka poets led the poet and critic Fujiwara no Kintō (966–1041) to name 31 men and 5 women from the Nara (ad 710–94) and Heian (794–1185) periods as ‘poetic immortals’. Although the kasen were selected, canonized and anthologized during the Heian period, the earliest surviving depictions date from the Kamakura period (1185–1333...

Article

Lotus  

Eva Wilson

Term for two distinct decorative motifs based on types of water-lily; one originated in Egypt, the other in India. Lotus motifs in Egypt occur from the beginning of the Dynastic period c. 3000 bc in two stylized forms. The curved outline of the flower-head distinguishes the motif based on the white-flowered Nymphaea lotus from the more triangular outline of the motif based on the blue-flowered Nymphaea caerulea (see fig. (a)). Representations on the walls of tombs and temples suggest that lotus flowers were much in evidence in daily life, and the motif decorates jewellery and many domestic objects. In the tomb of Tutankhamun (reg c. 1332–c. 1323 bc), for example, the bowl of an alabaster cup represents an open white lotus, while the handles have the form of the blue lotus flower and two buds; a necklace has lotus motifs on both pendant and lock; and the pointed lotus petals form decorative borders on many objects (all Cairo, Egyp. Mus.). Lotus flowers and buds are among other plantlike capitals on stone pillars in funerary monuments and temples (see Borchardt, figs 9–11). The lotus also had some ritual significance: the flowers of water-lilies close at night and open at sunrise, a feature that came to symbolize a resurgence of life and the sun itself and became associated with the sun god Horus. The morning sun was pictured as rising from the lotus flower and settling back into the flower at night. When associated with Isis, the lotus became a fertility symbol....

Article

Eva Wilson

Motif consisting of a fan of graded spines or lobes supported by spirals. Its origins are obscure, but similar motifs are first recorded in Syria and Mesopotamia and in the islands of the eastern Mediterranean (e.g. in wall paintings in the palace of the Mitanni at Nuzi in Assyria, c. 15th century bc) in the course of the 2nd millennium bc. The spiral, one of its basic elements, was the dominant decorative motif in the Bronze Age in the ancient Near East. As the stylized floral motifs of ancient Egypt, the lotus, papyrus, lily and palm (see Egypt, ancient, §VI, 20), were disseminated throughout the area, spiral and floral elements from the two decorative traditions were combined in a wide range of designs that had rising lobes and supporting spirals in common.

The word ‘palmette’ suggests that the motif was derived from representations of palm-trees, especially in view of the belief that a tree cult may have existed in western Asia in association with the introduction of the cultivated date-palm (Stevenson Smith). Tree motifs occur prominently in wall paintings in all of the Assyrian palaces. The ...

Article

Pen  

Shirley Millidge

Instrument made from a reed, quill or metal-tipped equivalent, generally used with Ink for writing (see Script) or drawing (see Drawing §III 2., (i)). In East Asia brush pens are used (see China, People’s Republic of §XIV 4., and Japan §VII 1., (ii)).

The earliest pens were made from reeds, dried, cut short and shaped to a blunt point. These were used by the Egyptians (see Egypt, ancient, §XI) and subsequently by the Romans. Isidore, Bishop of Seville, writing in the early 7th century ad, referred to the quill as a substitute, and by the Middle Ages the reed was employed only for very large scripts. It was, however, used by Erasmus in the mid-16th century in deference to its Classical associations. In the Islamic world the reed pen has always been the preferred writing instrument (see Islamic art, §III, 2(i)...

Article

Ajay Dandekar

Category of commemorative monuments found throughout the Indian subcontinent. Satī stones (satīkals) were erected as memorials to women who committed suicide following their husbands’ deaths, while hero stones (vīragals) commemorate men who died under such circumstances as a battle, a cattle raid or the defence of their villages from bands of raiders. Early medieval Kannada literature recognized five events for which heroes were honoured: a cattle raid; resisting an assault on the modesty of women; extending help to distressed relatives; acting on the orders of their masters; and defending their land.

The study of satī and hero stones is a relatively recent phenomenon. A seminar held in Madras in 1973 was the result of an intensive survey of hero stones conducted by the epigraphy department of the state of Tamil Nadu and thus concentrated on the epigraphic content rather than the form of the stones. In ...

Article

Shōji  

Robert W. Kramer

Type of Japanese door, constructed of translucent, paper-covered latticework. Like the tatami (floor mat) and the Fusuma (sliding door or panel), the shōji is one of the characteristic elements of the traditional Japanese residence. Such doors permit light to enter rooms that are far from exterior walls and give a degree of privacy to activities inside. In the humid climate of Japan, the paper with which the lattice is covered (formerly handmade rice-paper, now made with a mixture of synthetic material for additional strength and resilience) permits air to pass from interior to exterior, reducing the moisture inside. Examples of shōji from 18th-century merchant residences exhibit a dramatic division of the lattice, which makes the partitions very striking yet still functional. These are distinct from the chequer-board pattern that is more common. Shōji are placed in doorways beneath a section of the wall structure known as the ranma. The ranma...

Article

Susan Roaf

[Arab. bādahanj, malqaf; Pers. bādgīr]

Traditional form of natural ventilation and air-conditioning built on houses throughout the Middle East from North Africa to Pakistan. Constructed at least since the 2nd millennium bc in Egypt, wind catchers have also been used to cool caravanserais, water cisterns and mosques. Consisting of an open vent built on the roof facing into or away from the prevailing wind, wind catchers have shafts carrying the air down through the roof into the living area below, thereby ventilating and cooling the spaces. Wind catchers are generally placed above the summer rooms of courtyard houses. On the Iranian plateau, where the finest wind catchers are built, the vents are in the tops of brick towers which capture the faster airstreams above the general roof level. When there is little air movement, as on summer afternoons, the wind catcher acts as a chimney, drawing warm air up the shaft and through the living areas from the courtyard. In coastal settlements, towers generally face onshore winds. Most inland towers also face prevailing winds but in some desert settlements in the Yazd region of central Iran, where the prevailing wind is hot and dusty, vents similarly face away from the wind, and the preferred air from the courtyard is drawn through the summer rooms. In Iraq and central Iran, wind catchers are important in moderating the climate of the deep basements used as summer living rooms. In the Gulf and in Sind (the lower Indus region) wind catchers serve ground- and first-floor summer rooms....