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The Eyes of Power

The Eyes of Power: Art and Early Tokugawa Authority

Karen M. Gerhart
Copyright Date: 1999
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  • Book Info
    The Eyes of Power
    Book Description:

    "In her very interesting and provocative book, Gerhart considers a number of artistic sites as defining the Tokugawa 'political agenda'. Among these are the Ninomaru (Nijo) Palace, Nagoya Castle and the Nikko ... Mausoleum (the resting place of Ieyasu)." --Donald Richie, Japan Times, 23 November 1999 "As a title, The Eyes of Power suggests a role for art and architecture as tools of shogunal surveillance and suppression. In this book we find instead artistic ingenuity employed to provide a new establishment with a credible, even exultant, visual ideology." --Monumenta Nipponica 56 (2001) "Gerhart is to be commended for choosing a big subject and putting it together in a readable fashion. The book will serve diverse constituencies, including undergraduate and graduate students, specialists in art history, and those who want to learn more about how the visual trappings of power were constructed by the early 17th-century Japanese elite."

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6470-5
    Subjects: Art & Art History, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xviii)

    Art is about looking. As we look at art, it becomes the object of our gaze, and an image of its creators is reflected through our eyes. Art, therefore, is not passive. Viewers quickly identify with what they see and are affected by that vision, making it an active part of their reality. The audience, therefore, is shaped and influenced by art. Conversely, art is influenced by its audience in that the way in which it is viewed influences the image of its creators.

    In the first half of the seventeenth century, both the instigators and the viewers of art...

  5. 1 Pine Trees as Political Iconography at Nijō Castle
    (pp. 1-34)

    It was noon on the sixth day of the ninth month of 1626 when Emperor Gomizunoo (1596–1680, r. 1611–1629) set out on a short and singular journey to visit the Ninomaru Palace of Nijō Castle,¹ the Kyoto residence of the third Tokugawa shogun, Iemitsu (1604–1651, r. 1623–1651). This grand and sumptuous castle, located just a few blocks from the emperor’s own imperial palace, was representative of a centuries-long power struggle between the military and the court in Kyoto, a fact reemphasized by the luxurious renovations undertaken between 1624 and 1626 in preparation for this memorable imperial...

  6. 2 Chinese Exemplars and Virtuous Rulers at Nagoya Castle
    (pp. 35-72)

    In 1634, less than a decade after Emperor Gomizunoo made his imperial progress to Nijō Castle, Shogun Iemitsu set out from Edo on what was to be his last journey to the ancient capital of Kyoto.¹ En route, he stopped with his large entourage for three nights at Nagoya Castle, where elaborate preparations had been made to welcome him. To commemorate the occasion of his visit, a special Visitation Palace(jōrakuden)had been lavishly constructed to house the shogun in grand style during his brief stay. Inside the stately edifice, paintings of virtuous Chinese emperors adorned the walls.

    The two...

  7. 3 Nikkō’s Yōmeimon: Sculpture and Sacred Landscape
    (pp. 73-106)

    Located in a dense cryptomeria forest a three-hour train ride north from the metropolitan center of Tokyo, Nikkō Tōshōgū, the seventeenth-century mausoleum and place of worship(reibyō)for Tokugawa Ieyasu’s (1542–1616) deified spirit, still attracts crowds of visitors to its grounds on a daily basis. The ornamental majesty of its buildings draws unrestrained cries of wonderment from many of those who stand before its splendid middle gate, the Yōmeimon. Other visitors, both Japanese and foreigners alike, find its brilliant colors and plethora of sculpted detail overwhelming and in decided contrast to popular perceptions of traditional Japanese taste. Such sentiments...

  8. 4 The Tōshō Daigongen engi as Political Propaganda
    (pp. 107-140)

    The twenty-first anniversary of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s death was celebrated with extraordinary pomp and ceremony on the seventeenth day of the fourth month of 1636 (Kan’ei 13). A new shrine complex, with splendid architecture, sumptuous interior decorations, and elaborately sculpted and polychromed gates, was constructed at tremendous cost. Still, this was not enough. Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu wanted assurance that his august grandfather Ieyasu, and by extension the Tokugawa, had the explicit support of Japan’s cultural elite. Therefore, he devised a beautiful, albeit clever, document—theTōshōsha engi(Origin of the [Nikkō] Tōshō Shrine)—to propagate the religious tale of Ieyasu’s life...

  9. Epilogue
    (pp. 141-146)

    Art produced by the political center during the heyday of Iemitsu’s rule, from about 1624 to 1640, consisted of monumental structures decorated with symbolic and complex images initiated or approved by Shogun Iemitsu and meant to legitimate his own power and to give his reign an aura of cultured sophistication. Although the monuments were, in cases like castles, clearly visible to the public, the public targeted by the art examined in this study was the elite, namely, the court and other powerful daimyo who had access to audiences with the shogun. The Tokugawa found it most expedient to impress and...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 147-186)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 187-198)
  12. Index
    (pp. 199-212)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 213-214)