8 beautiful birds in Japanese art.
A long time ago now I bought a book in a poky little bookshop in suburban Tokyo. I fell in love with that book because it was full of some of the most fabulous natural history illustrations I had ever seen. The artworks of such luminaries as John Gould and Audubon are well known, at least in the Western world, but the works of a number of dedicated and talented naturalists of Edo period Japan are not exactly celebrated outside of a small circle of enthusiasts.
It’s a shame because these woodblock prints and screen art are not only very aesthetically appealing but they are indicative of the advanced state of biological research in Japan during this period of relative peace and posterity. Around this time there occurred a boom in the study of medicinal plants, leading on to an increased interest in the natural world as a whole.
The Edo Period spanned from 1603 to 1868 and is known as the premodern era of Japanese history. It’s so named for the Japanese capital at the time, now known as Tokyo. Early in the Edo period a book known as the Kinmouzui (something like “The Book of Enlightenment) appeared in which 312 species of animal were illustrated, but they were idealized and not realistic. Then in about 1734 over a four to five year period, the Bakumei series (the Lifestyle of the Shogunate) appeared. This included the first systematic documentation of the Japanese living world and represented a complete survey of all known animal species in Japan. On top of this, there occurred a groundbreaking event for the Japanese art world when in 1731 the famous Chinese painter Shin Nan Bin arrived in Nagasaki for a two year stay. Apparently his influence was huge.
These events led to a boom in interest in the natural world amongst the intelligentsia and upper classes and more realistic depictions of wildlife, especially birds, insects, flora and marine life, began to appear.
Top picture: Chinese Grey Shrike オオモズ
Gunnar: Breeding Spoon-billed Sandpiper found in Chukotka: BirdLife Species Champions strike gold in Chukotka The other day, I listened to one of Charlie Moore
Gunnar: An interview with Lee Evans: I – Lee Evans So everyone is STILL talking about that documentary on BBC4? One of the main character
Rebecca Nason: Aegean Rainbow Continued . . .: Every year produces new and exciting bird and wildlife highlights in Lesvos, no tours are ever the s
Category:Birding Western Palearctic
SusanMyers:The Fifty Best Birds in Asia!: Top 50 Asian birds, part 1 OK, I’m mainly doing this to see if anyone’s listening! Oh, and I like to
SusanMyers:The Fifty Best Birds in Asia: Part 2: Righto! I’m back with the next installment – yes, 11 to 20. I know you’ve been looking forward to th
SusanMyers:The Fifty Best Birds in Asia: Part 4: Sadly, I’m running out of my own photos to post. Hmmm, funny how so many birds I have taken photos o
SusanMyers:The final 50 Best Birds in Asia!: So here is the final list of ten to make up the fifty. The process of putting it together has been,
SusanMyers:The Fifty Best Birds in Asia: Part 3: The list goes on! The list continues and as I put it together I realize perhaps fifty isn’t enough!