Arthur M Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art - The National Museum of Asian Art - Smithsonian Institution
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The Decorative Modes of the Kenzan Style
Native Poetics
In Kenzan's age, Japanese literary activities moved from a guarded, privileged tradition of the Kyoto imperial court and the ruling warrior class to a popular hobby enjoyed by a broader cross section of society, including Kenzan's merchant-class family. Kenzan's ceramic designs frequently incorporate imagery from the texts of classical literature, particularly romantic prose-poetry narratives, such as the Tales of Ise and the Tales of Genji, and anthologies of verse composed between the tenth and thirteenth centuries. The poetry, calligraphy style, and aesthetic mood of poet and critic Fujiwara Teika (1162–1241) infused the literature, handwriting style, and tea ceremony of Kenzan's day. At his Narutaki workshop, Kenzan lavished care on exquisite sets of dishes and incense boxes bearing imagery from Teika's verses or from prose-poetry narratives, knowing these subjects would appeal to cultured townsmen.

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