Haboku-sansui (破墨山水)

Haboku-sansui refers to Sansui-ga (Chinese-style landscape painting) which is painted using haboku (the broken-ink technique) technique (to be described later). A famous example is 'Haboku-sansui-zu' by Sesshu.


Haboku-sansui-zu' is a Sansui-ga (Chinese-style landscape painting) which was created by Sesshu in 1495 and was given to Sesshu's disciple, Soen. It is owned by Tokyo National Museum. It is with a long title written by Sesshu. The name, Haboku-sansui-zu came from the statement in the long title, which said that he learned 'Haboku technique' in the period of Ming Dynasty. However, there is an opinion that the technique used in the 'Haboku-sansui-zu' is 'hatsuboku-sansui' (splashed-ink landscape painting).

Technique called the haboku (the broken-ink technique)
The term, 'haboku' was commenced to be used in the latter half of the period of Tang Dynasty, and the meaning of the term varies depending on period and context.

In current ink-wash painting, it means 'giving a three-dimensional appearance by Bokuten (inking) and Notan (contrasting density) of ink.'
It is also described as 'the technique to add a kozumi (deep India ink) before the lightly painted point dries.'
Kozumi sheds usuzumi (light India ink) and generates an effect of 'kozumi breaks usuzumi' (Huáng Gōngwàng, representing mountain and water distinctively). It has been widely used as a technique of ink-wash painting since the period of Yuan Dynasty. It is the opposite technique of 'Hakubyo plain sketch' focusing on the outline. However, it is different from 'hatsuboku' (splashed-ink technique) in which outlines are not used and only the ink surfaces are used to express.

The term, 'haboku' is used to generate an effect similar to shed an ink by crossing ink lines. It seemed that in the latter half of the period of Tang Dynasty, 'haboku' meant 'Sansui (landscape, hills and rivers) expressed with assembled Bokuten (inking) that is quickly and sharply painted' (He Huijian).

[Original Japanese]