Zen, Tea, and Chinese Art in Medieval Japan
Zen Buddhism, tea, and ink painting—well-known expressions of Japanese culture—have their roots in Chinese arts and ideas brought to medieval Japan from the late twelfth to the sixteenth century. Devout Japanese and Chinese Buddhist monks brought the teachings of Chan Buddhism to Japan, where it was known as Zen Buddhism, and attracted the patronage of powerful warriors who ruled Japan as shoguns from 1192 to 1867. Prestigious Chinese art collected by Zen monasteries and their ruling-class patrons introduced new techniques, styles, and aesthetic ideas, transforming Japanese artistic expression. By the sixteenth century, arts and customs from Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasty China had been assimilated into Japanese culture, emerging as Japanese practices such as chanoyu, the art of tea. In this exhibition, Chinese and Japanese paintings, lacquer ware, and ceramics illuminate this remarkable period of cultural contact and synthesis.