Styles of Japanese Traditional Homes
Though it is a fact that remains unproven, indications lead to the fact that Japanese arts were largely influenced by ancient Chinese culture
However it is imperative to point out that once the Japanese became aware of these art styles, they endowed and enhanced them with a 'signature' of their own character, one which became so different from the original, that it was considered as unique and therefore most deserving of the merit given them, of an independent art style.
With ancient Japanese art, beauty was seen in terms of patterns and designs, and their interpretations were filled with vigour and earthiness. Basically, the essence of decorative arts of the traditional Japanese is best grasped when we understand their rejection of mere visual appearances of natural things.
There must be an inner meaning to a theme, form or object, and an insatiable curiosity for what it is meant to portray, which must exclude insignificance, but have substantive realities.
Early Japanese Art Expressions
Art impressions of importance started with Buddhism and its 'birth' around the 6th century. This was a time when Japan had long periods of isolation due to their location.
They lived an uninterrupted lifestyle, one that was long enough to give them the advantage of developing their unique and enviable self identity.
The important periods of the Japanese Eras include the following:
The Nara Period 710 to 794 AD
During the Nara Period, Japanese architectural styles were inspired by the Chinese eras of the 6 Dynasties, and the T'ang, and with this influence came the Buddhist monks' campaign and demand for the erection of temple structures.
The vast abundance of timber from the famous hanoki tree, an astonishingly durable type of cypress; made the use of wood ideal for the early forms of Japanese architecture and decorative arts.
The exteriors of their architectural structures were fitted with peaked roofs and majorly painted with a red oxide of lead, while the interiors were molded elaborately with wood using relief, and finished in a variety of bold vibrant and vivid colours.
The Heian Period 794 to 1192
During the Heian Period, there was a new variation of roof styles. They became taller and "incurvate", and as the Japanese islands isolation from the 16th century gave them the opportunity for greater self-realisation, there was an emergence of distinct patterns in the "new" Japanese art styles evolving into art that had these types of patterns reflected in domestic architecture.
The results? Japanese traditional homes and their interior designs consisted of a series of cubes joined together by narrow corridors, with the all important Japanese garden always sited at the south of the structure.
The Muromachi Period 1392 to 1573
During this era, the Chinese influence on Japanese arts returned again through Zen Buddhism, fostering simplicity of form and an impression of chaste art.
There was a total elimination of the typical Japanese extraneous detailing and building construction was changed to allow an infusion of natural light.
Around the 15th and 16th, there was an infiltration of Dutch and Portuguese art styles, but despite this intrusion, a true Japanese architectural style evolved which subsequently became fully developed and largely adopted.
Traditional Japanese Interiors
There was an evident refinement and simplicity in early Japanese interiors, not much different from what obtains today.
Wood continued to be the main material for architectural construction and the space plans remained the basic oblong shapes of the Heian period.
Interior walls were delicate looking but strong movable partitions made from papered horizontal and vertical lattice works of wood.
Japanese Garden Styles
Japanese gardens have always been an integral part of the Japanese household, and Japanese traditional homes also came with its pavilion that was always used for the tea ceremony.
The garden became an independent identity up until the 1800's through to the Edo period of 1603 to 1867 Japan.
By the last half of the 19th century, there began an infusion of Western art styles and concepts which brought a new look to the styles of Japanese art and architecture.
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