Bunjinga (literati painting) (文人画)

"Bunjinga"refers to the paintings that bunjin (literati) painted as their pastime, as opposed to paintings by the professional artists in China (Intaiga, a type of Chinese painting associated with the Imperial Court Academy).

It was a classification presented by Dong Qichang, a painter and a critic, who lived during the period of Ming dynasty. He criticized professional painters for focusing only on techniques, and highly appreciated paintings that conveyed the mind and spirit of the painters.

According to Dong Qichang, the history of Intaiga for the most part, overlaps with that of Hokusoga (the northern school of Chinese painting), and the history of Bunjinga for the most part, overlaps with that of the southern school of Chinese painting. His opinion made a great influence on the history of Chinese paintings, but his theory was structured on much arbitrariness, for Dong Qichang's claims were also aimed to attack the Hokusoga that stood in opposition.

According to his explanation, Bunjinga was supposed to have originated from Wei WANG who lived during the period of Tang Dynasty. Many Bunjinga were painted by Shitaifu (Scholar-bureaucrats) during the period of Sung dynasty, and it began to be stylized around genmatsu shitaika (the four great painters, Kokobo, Gochin, Geiurin, and Omoku, that painted Chinese-style landscape painting and established Southern Song painting). Dong Qichang placed himself in this lineage.

Bunjinga was introduced to Japan during the Muromachi period, and flourished from the mid-Edo period. Prominent painters of Bunjinga who lived during the Edo period include IKE no Taiga, Buson YOSA, Buncho TANI, and Kazan WATANABE. From the Meiji period, Bunjinga declined as Ernest FENOLLOSA and Tenshin OKAKURA who were leading the world of fine art had low opinions, and no remarkable painters besides Tessai TOMIOKA grew out.

[Original Japanese]