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The Heian Period

Feature page for August 2006

For almost four hundred years (794-1185), while Europe was mired in the dark ages, Japan enjoyed a cultural explosion. During this era, learning from China reached its peak, while Japan also developed its own distinctive forms of art, literature, and architecture. The society was extremely non-egalitarian, but for the lucky tiny minority this must have seemed a most civilised time.

The era remains a popular one as a subject for art - most notably in scenes from Murasaki Shikibu's Tale of Genji, written in around 1000 AD, and said to be the world's first novel. Note the fashion indicators of the time: the high eyebrows, the (very) long hair, and the sumptuous kimonos...

Heian character collection

Dream purple
© Haruyo

2016: Dream purple (Haruyo)

We instantly realise from the ankle-length hair that this character is from the Heian period, a thousand years ago, and an era of cultural flowering and incredibly ornate costumes. She reads a long, long letter, probably in the form of a poem, perhaps from a distant lover.

The artist Morita Haruyo studied both Japanese art and kimono design, and she combines these with elements of her own Western-influenced technique. (She travelled to London in 1977, exactly the year I [Brian Chandler] first came to Tokyo.)

Morita is her family name: she follows the tradition of signing - and sealing - paintings with her given name only.

* This puzzle has smaller pieces than the standard size.

In stock
An Epoch puzzle: 2016 pieces; 75 x 50 cm (30" x 20")
Code: E23314 (23-314 on box)
Retail price ¥3600 (approx. US$33.33 €30.51 £25.71)
Shipping from ¥1200 (N. America, Europe, Australasia: approx. US$11.11 €10.17 £8.57)
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Kaguya-hime
© Ozuma Kaname

1000: Kaguya-hime (Kaname)

With a huge full moon as backdrop, Kaguyahime ("Princess of the shining night") has a pensive look. The story of which she is heroine, the "Bamboo cutter's tale", dates back a thousand years, to the great cultural flowering that was the Heian period. In the story, she was found as a tiny baby inside a bamboo trunk.

As we see, a beauty of that time wore her eyebrows high, and her hair exceedingly long. She also spared no expense on her kimono.

Detail

Good articles at Wikipedia: The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter - Heian period

The painter Ozuma Kaname was born in 1939, in Niigata. He studied traditional Japanese art, and his pictures are generally based on traditional themes.

Ozuma is his family name: he signs paintings with the single character of his given name only.

In stock
An Appleone puzzle: 1000 pieces; 75 x 50 cm (30" x 20")
Code: A10339 (1000-339 on box)
Retail price ¥3600 (approx. US$33.33 €30.51 £25.71)
Shipping from ¥1200 (N. America, Europe, Australasia: approx. US$11.11 €10.17 £8.57)
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Dream poem
© Haruyo

1000: Dream poem (Haruyo)

A beauty from the Heian period, a thousand years or so ago, has a pensive look under the full moon. Haruyo has added a poem by a famously beautiful poetess of the period, Ono no Komachi. (This is a waka, comprising 5-7-5-7-7 syllables.)

Utsutsu ni wa / samo koso arame / yume ni sae / hitome wo moru to / miru ga wabishisa
Not to meet in real life is hard enough, but for cares to keep you from me even in my dreams is more than I can bear.

The artist Morita Haruyo studied both Japanese art and kimono design, and she combines these with elements of her own Western-influenced technique. (She travelled to London in 1977, exactly the year I [Brian Chandler] first came to Tokyo.)

Morita is her family name: she follows the tradition of signing - and sealing - paintings with her given name only.

In stock
An Epoch puzzle: 1000 pieces; 50 x 75 cm (20" x 30")
Code: E11478 (11-478 on box)
Retail price ¥3000 (approx. US$27.78 €25.42 £21.43)
Shipping from ¥1200 (N. America, Europe, Australasia: approx. US$11.11 €10.17 £8.57)
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Dream purple
© Haruyo

300: Dream purple (Haruyo)

We instantly realise from the ankle-length hair that this character is from the Heian period, a thousand years ago, and an era of cultural flowering and incredibly ornate costumes. She reads a long, long letter, probably in the form of a poem, perhaps from a distant lover.

The artist Morita Haruyo studied both Japanese art and kimono design, and she combines these with elements of her own Western-influenced technique. (She travelled to London in 1977, exactly the year I [Brian Chandler] first came to Tokyo.)

Morita is her family name: she follows the tradition of signing - and sealing - paintings with her given name only.

In stock
An Apollo puzzle: 300 pieces; 38 x 26 cm (15" x 10")
Code: P48746 (48-746 on box)
Retail price ¥1400 (approx. US$12.96 €11.86 £10.00)
Shipping from ¥600 (N. America, Europe, Australasia: approx. US$5.56 €5.08 £4.29)
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Symbol of Heian glory

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