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Aoki Shukuya, died 1802
Scene from Romance of the Three Kingdoms
1792
Color on silk

Romance of the Three Kingdoms was a Ming Dynasty epic narrative that circulated widely in China in the form of woodblock-printed books. The popularity of this story and others like it grew rapidly in Japan during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Japanese publishers sometimes copied and published imported Chinese versions. Many also commissioned translators to render them into easily readable prose that appealed to a wide segment of the literate population. Shukuya's familiarity with the narrative likely came through this means. The scene depicts a band of soldiers ascending a mountain pass to a fortress tucked away in the crags near the mountain's peak, but the precise episode of Romance of the Three Kingdoms Shukuya depicts is not known.

Shukuya's rendition of the landscape is much more formal and structured than most Chinese bunjinga. It has a polished look that Chinese artists would have dismissed as too professional. Nonetheless, it typifies Japanese bunjinga painters' approach to landscape. A comparison with the yamato-e Kasuga mandala and the hatsuboku landscapes in this gallery, and the landscape elements of the screen paintings in the next gallery, reveals how different the bunjinga approach was.

Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gift of the Ackland Associates, 84.7.2

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Copyright (c) 2000, Mayumi Ishida, All Rights Reserved Last Updated: April 11, 2000