Cultural Sources of Ink and Wash / Sumi-e Painting – The Influence of Confucianism on Ink and Wash / Sumi-e Painting

 

What is Confucianism?

Confucianism is not a religion, but a philosophy which was and still is immensely important for the political and ethical system of China. It is rooted in the teachings of Confucius and is together with Daoism and Buddhism one of the three great philosophies of China. It was developed around 500 BCE and influences Chinese society and culture until today.

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Cultural Sources of Ink and Wash / Sumi-e Painting – The Influence of Chan Buddhism on Ink and Wash / Sumi-e Painting

 

The Rise of Chan Buddhist Painting and the Birth of Ink and Wash / Sumi-e

The 12th to 14th centuries in China can be seen as the birth years of what would later be known as sumi-e. Starting with the literati, who used mostly or only monochrome ink, it came to full development when some painters consciously withdrew from social activities and advocated themselves to Buddhist studies, mainly of the Chan School. Chan Buddhism had been introduced to China in the 6th century and was revived in the 13th century. Its ascetic, straightforward nature appealed to many scholars.

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Cultural Sources of Ink and Wash / Sumi-e Painting – The Influence of Daoism on Ink and Wash / Sumi-e Painting

 

What is Daoism?

Daoism is said to be the indigenous philosophy and religion of China, with the philosopher Laozi as the author of the Daodejing and founder of Daoism. It is not wrong to call it both philosophy and religion, because both forms are deeply linked with each other and difficult to separate. “Dao” means “way”, but can also be translated as “method” or “principle”. It is believed that everything in the universe is made by the “Dao”, which is thus the driving force behind all that exists, and at the same time, it is nothing. The main goal is to live in balance and harmony with the Dao.

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