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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

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 package)
Retail price ¥1400 (approx. US$13.46 €12.07 £10.29)
Shipping from ¥600 (N. America, Europe, Australasia: approx. US$5.77 €5.17 £4.41)
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Symbol of Heian glory

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