Published: November 2011
Violets between Cherry BlossomsThe Diffusion of Classical Motifs to the East: Traces in Japanese Art. Fiction, Conjectures, Facts
This richly illustrated book is a comparative study, which shows how motifs and images travelled throughout Eurasia from Rome to Tokyo. It covers a period from around the early fifth century BC, when there was a well-established Grecian influence in the Black Sea area, up until today.
It is likely that already in the fifth century BC there was some indirect cultural exchange between the Black Sea region and China, thanks to rudimentary roads linking these regions. In the wake of the military campaigns of Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), Hellenistic culture spread to regions east and south of the Mediterranean Sea, including Egypt, Persia (today Iran), present-day Afghanistan, northern India and the western parts of Central Asia. Buddhism also spread at this time. As both land and sea routes became more reliable, Hellenistic Rome acquired a crucial position in the trade network. From the second to the sixth century AD elements of Greco-Buddhist culture gradually found their way to China and subsequently, from the mid-sixth century AD on, reached Japan.
Violets between Cherry Blossoms is the first comprehensive work to provide a critical and compelling study of the cultural flow across this extensive area. It shows convincingly how Greek images and motifs travelled East, were adopted and preserved in Chinese art and how they spread to Japan.
Pieter Arts was awarded his PhD by the University of Leiden, the Netherlands, for his study of the material culture of Korea and Japan. He has published several books and articles on Japanese art.
“This is not a book that can be ignored by any lover of the history of art and significance of images, both for its lavish illustration and its message.” – Prof. Sir John Boardman, Beazley Archive, Oxford
“This book enables one to trace the origins of certain stylistic features and to identify specific stylistic elements. One would like to read this book not only once, but one would like to have it in one’s library as a reference tool.” – Prof. Adele Schlombs, Director of the Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne