Art and architecture: Term paper
The history of Chinese and Japanese architecture and design confirms a close connection between these two nations, their common Far-Eastern roots. At the same time, they have deep distinctions. Japanese architecture took a lot from Chinese traditions over centuries - therefore we cannot consider it separately.
In a number of aspects differences between them show that the Chinese architecture and interior design are essentially older than Japanese. Long before AD, Chinese culture and art had achieved an advanced stage of development in planning and constructive solutions.
As for the Japanese, they have been building lightly built houses for a long time. Their buildings were typical for Neolithic culture, and their first attempts to raise more sizeable constructions were the result of their acquaintance with continental architecture.
1. Historic foundations of Japanese and Chinese design and architecture.
China and Japan are closely connected, although the East China Sea separates these two countries. China had a great influence on Japan and its culture. The history of their relationship began in the first century AD. During the period between the seventh and the tenth centuries Japanese state was gradually changing own model of governance according to the Chinese state apparatus. As a result, the Japanese took a lot over the Chinese culture and religion.
1.1. The process of development of Chinese design and architecture.
The Culture of Ancient China formed in East and Central Asia. A thousand years BC there had already developed philosophical and religious conceptions. According to these ideas, people perceived the nature as a living organism and the process of creation - as a result of the interaction between the male divine Yang and the female earth Yin in their 64 combinations.
At the beginning of our era, the state of China managed to accumulate wealth and concentrate power that allowed Chinese architects of that time to create buildings unprecedented by size and luxury. In texts of those times, we often find descriptions of beautiful palaces full of sculptures and picturesque embellishments. We can see visual evidences of already destroyed halls on gravestone pictures of Qin and Han dynasties.
In the 3d century a new religion - Buddhism, gradually penetrated into all spheres of life of the Chinese. This religion gave a new function to the architecture and inner design of Chinese buildings. But for all that, the established rigidity of Chinese building traditions led to the fact that Buddhists temples got shapes of a Chinese palace. This example is the evidence of the disinclination of Chinese architecture and design to adopt alien elements.
1.2. The process of development of Japanese design and architecture.
The territory of Japan consists of about 4000 islands. The biggest four islands are Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku and Hokkaido. Relief is a combination of mountains and plains. Thus, each region consists of three zones that have very different natural environment and form three economic and cultural complexes - sea, mountain and plain.
Another important feature of Japanese environment has always been an exceptional lack of mineral resources. The main materials for the Japanese were sand, clay, stone, wood and water. Therefore, the life of the Japanese, even among the most influential groups, was never luxurious, and the gap between rich and poor people was never glaring.
In their everyday life Japanese people mainly used wood as a material for furniture, crockery and building. As for a stone, it was a rare material for building because of the frequent earthquakes.
Another important factor, which influenced the Japanese culture, was the mythology of Shintoism. The basis of Shinto was an idea of kami - spirits of nature, who didn't have visible images. Shintoism led to the development of a special esthetics, which appreciated the natural beauty of the material and incomplete forms.
The traditional Japanese architecture has two major styles: Shinden and Sein. The first style received its name from the central building of the manor - the main hall Shinden (“sleeping room”). The only sample of this style that came to us through the centuries is the Imperial Palace in Kyoto.
Sein means “library” or “studio” - the conception that was influenced by Zen Buddhism. This model of the building still serves as a sample of traditional Japanese apartment. The most important aspect of this architecture is the connection between home and surrounding area that aren’t considered as two separate parts and flow into each other.
Ordinary houses had a common name “Minka”. These buildings had a fairly simple design and had been the dominant type of construction until the 19th century when Japanese architecture became a subject of Western influence.
Dissemination of the tea ceremony contributed to the development of ceramics with its special production of tea cups. They fully reflected the love of the Japanese to natural forms. Shaggy surface, cracks, stains and irregular forms of cups imitated random shapes of rocks and streams.
The art of ikebana originated in Japan in the 15th century. This tradition came from China, where it was a part of the ritual. Nowadays this art is very popular around the world and is widely used in modern interiors.
Japanese homes never lacked in small cabinets, chests and boxes, decorated with silk cords, golden tassels and bronze details. These items together with elegant stands for books and folding screens created a special spirit in Japanese homes.
2. Basic principles of Japanese and Chinese interior design.
Both Chinese and Japanese styles of interior design are representatives of the Ethno style. Both traditions tend to express their national and social particular qualities in their houses. But these two countries differ in their culture, religion and geography.
Japan has always been overpopulated and poor in natural resources. That is why people had to equip their homes using small spaces with a maximum benefit. As a result, a Japanese house is an example of practicality and minimalism.
China has a various landscape and climate. Vast areas, plenty of natural and human resources allowed the Chinese to build significant in size and complexity buildings. These customs and a special view of the world reflected on the interior of Chinese homes.
2.1. Basic principles and elements of Chinese interior.
In accordance with the five points in space (the center and the four cardinal points) the Chinese formed a five-member model of the world with the heavenly ruler of the center and the lords of the sides of the world. Each of these lords represented the planet, the element, the season and the color. The visible reflection of this worldview is the Chinese architecture and interior design.
Chinese interior is generally based on three main principles: energy, nature and simplicity. The Chinese aspire to create calm and peaceful surrounding that reflects values and characters of those who live in the house.
Simplicity of Chinese interior means that the room should not be decorated with all traditional furnishings. But it is important to find a proper place for each thing and use only few beautiful and valuable objects in order to create the right effect. Using a limited number of decor items allows the room to remain spacious and light.
The Chinese have been using Feng Shui for creating harmonious interiors since olden times. This discipline involves not only arranging furnishing, but is a complex of philosophy, religion, mathematics, astrology, esthetics and the concept of energy component of the world - Chi. There are four basic principles of Feng Shui that include Nature, the Concept of Chi, Yin and Yang, the Five Natural Elements.
The connection with nature is in the first place in Feng Shui. Orientation, lighting, proportions, materials, window view, and colors - all these aspects have a direct connection with the environment.
The simplicity of architectural forms is supplemented with decorative elements. For example, figured carving - dragons, turtles, phoenixes and other traditional images, covered ledges and founding of columns, giving the architecture intricate forms.
Porcelain vases, dishes and other vessels were wide-spread elements of the ancient Chinese ulterior and are still popular. First porcelain had grey-blue glaze and bright spots of turquoise, green, amber and yellow colors. In the 13th century, ceramics has become more diverse and got exquisite combinations of colors. In the 15th century, porcelain production took the form of art. Black vases and dishes painted with sparkling colors were more like paintings, picturing landscapes, flowers and birds, genre scenes.
During 15-19th centuries, the art of making varnished items was constantly perfecting. Craftsmen used red lacquer to cover boxes, screens, tables, cabinets and thrones. They also used to carve reliefs in lacquer to create complicated patterns on furniture, musical instruments, plates and dishes. Black lacquered things had patterns painted in green, blue, pink and gold colors, encrusted with pearls. These beautiful furnishings gave refinement to Chinese interiors.
The Chinese considered calligraphy the most important art which at least indirectly affected on all kinds of creativity in this country. And the furniture is not an exception. There is an opinion that the geometry of objects in the interior is connected with traditions and principles of writing hieroglyphs. But how a volume object can bear a resemblance to a flat character? On closer examination, their affinity in lines becomes apparent. Moreover, symbolic decorative elements on furniture, “talking” accessories often form whole “texts”, and a real expert of Chinese culture can easily interpret these messages.
2.2. Characteristic features of Japanese interior.
Minimalism and principles of Zen strongly influenced the Japanese interior design. The interior of Japanese home is organized according to the conception of “Ma”, which we translate as “negative space”. This conception supposes to aim for the harmony between furniture, other objects and the space. The idea is to keep this space maximum clear and not overloaded.
Though the interior of Japanese houses differs from other styles by its simplicity, creating this interior is not a simple task. It is important to follow the seven basic principles of organizing space and using colors. These are flexibility, privacy, simplicity, natural materials, quite colors, lighting and exposure, traditional elements.
The rule of flexibility proves itself in the multifunctionality of rooms and maximization of living space. The tradition of effective use of resources found expression in screens made of rice paper, that are used to divide the room into parts .
Japanese society is highly urbanized, so the ability to use the space for different purposes during the day is quite important. For example, the space of the bedroom can be used for other needs during the day, because traditional Japanese bed - futon, can be folded in the morning. Its wooden base has a flexible construction, and this gives the ability to fold the bed and make a sofa for guests.
The rule of privacy is closely connected with “shoji” - rice-paper screens. Their structure allows suffused light into the room, but doesn't allow seeing what happens indoors. Room dividers are at the same time decorative and functional elements that serve to divide the living area into sections, giving those who live on the house the opportunity to seclude themselves from others.
Simplicity is a dominant principle of Japanese interiors. Every room in the house should be neat and have minimum decorations. The furniture is usually small and low, has straight simple shapes, made in one or two colors.
Admiring the beauty of nature is the feature of the Japanese that is manifested in the use of natural materials. These are wood, silk, bamboo, rice paper and straw mats. The Japanese prefer to stay close to nature. Building homes they use natural materials, and this is one of the ways to maintain this connection.
In the use of colors, Japanese designers tend to use quiet colors of original materials. The palate of a Japanese house is usually represented by black, brown, grey, green, beige and white. These colors reflect the environment, because we can find them in the countryside. This method helps to join the house space with a garden and focus on the nature but not artificial products of human civilization.
One of the key elements of Japanese design is lighting. The main idea is to use the natural light defusing through natural cloth curtains and rice paper screens. Sources of electric light can be overshadowed by rice paper or fabric screens.
Japanese designers still tend to use traditional elements creating modern interiors. These elements are Fusuma, Shoji, Ttami and Tokonoma. Fusuma is a sliding panel made of wood in combination with cloth or paper. They are used as doors and room dividers that help to join rooms in a flexible way.
Tatami are Japanese mats that are used to cover floor. They're traditionally made of rice straw. Most Japanese used to have tatami floors in the past. Modern houses still have one or two rooms with this natural covering. Tatami's size is 176x88cm in Tokyo, but this standard varies by region.
Tokonoma is a special area in the guestroom. It is a niche that is used for the tea ceremony. Many modern houses in Japan still have it. This small room is usually used not only for the ceremony, but also for a display of Japanese paintings, flower compositions (ikebana) and calligraphy.
3. Modem Japanese and Chinese interior design: similarities and differences.
Chinese and Japanese styles of design are very different, though they have many similar elements. In terms of decorative elements and furniture, Japanese interiors are more minimalistic and calming. Use of bright colors and dramatic decorative elements is inherent to Chinese interiors.
The first thing that comes to mind when we compare Japanese and Chinese interior design is the fact that the Chinese traditional interior is more opulent. Japanese interiors are much more unpretentious. Their colors are not so bright and various, and furnishings is plain.
Creation of Japanese interiors demands observance of Zen principles that strive for open, calm and clear mind. These principles work in interior in the following way: designer needs to avoid disorder in the room, reduce the intensity of colors (choose earth and water tones), clear the floor and walls areas (avoid bright paintings and rugs).
Creating Chinese interior, every designer must follow principles of Feng Shui that dictates arrangement of rooms, doors, windows and furniture. Every decor item has its own meaning and place. A Chinese home is a splash of colors, startling furnishings and properly chosen accents. But every detail, each color carries the message and is used for a specific purpose.
There is an idea peculiar to both styles - the inclusion of some outdoor elements indoors. For example, you can find natural stone in both Chinese and Japanese houses. Chinese interior is rich in red lacquer, and this material is present in Japanese interiors too. It is a common thing for modern interiors of both styles to use small red lacquered tables and other small items of furniture. The main idea is not to overwhelm the room with red.
In both Chinese and Japanese interiors painting walls in tints of green, is a common technique of creating a natural environment. This color is a good companion for gold, black, red, beige, brown and other colors. But walls of Japanese houses can have bright colors as long as these colors maintain the room's natural, earthy feel.
Colors in Chinese interior have a special purpose. The red color is significant for the Chinese and symbolizes luck. It is frequently used in Chinese interior but is rare for Japanese houses.
Japanese design tends to natural lighting, when the Chinese use paper lanterns and red, blue and yellow lamps with painted hieroglyphs and mythical Chinese characters.
Chinese accents involve luxurious silk embroidered in traditional Chinese designs (flowers and birds, mystical animals, tigers and dragons, etc.), rugs in all sizes, curtains and pillows, ceramics and beautiful wooden chests.
As for the Japanese accents, they involve embroidered silk (designed with flowers, trees, Mount Fuji and other pictures and patterns), stone and bamboo materials, orchids and bonsai plants, porcelain tea sets, traditional pottery and other organic furnishings. It is important to choose accessories that evoke nature.
Traditional Ethno designs are still very popular today, and people do not hesitate to combine them with modern concepts. The Chinese relies on Feng Shui in building and decorating of houses, considering an energetic component of each color, material or item of furniture. Luxurious and elegant, but peaceful and simple at the same time, Chinese interiors keep connection with nature.
The Japanese house in the esthetic sense is a refined emptiness that has an easily changeable mobile interior with sliding walls. The Japanese put the emphasis on quality of materials. Whatever Japanese masters work with - wood, bamboo or iron, the try to keep maximum natural beauty of each material. Though they borrowed some types of artistic products from their continental neighbors, the Japanese managed to use this experience adding something peculiar to Japanese culture only. This principle still dominates in Japanese interiors and makes them special.
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