Procrastination: everyone I know seems to have this problem, or at least claims to, leading to the popularity of t-shirts and facebook groups proclaiming, “Procrastinators of the World Unite! …Tomorrow.”
When it comes to this blog, I tend to have this issue, only rather than procrastinate entirely, I have an idea or moment of inspiration, type up notes in WordPress, and then press save — the draft unfinished. As it happens, I have drafts from over a year ago, and had essentially written the posts in my head without having bothered to have published anything. It’s horrifyingly lazy (…thus quintessentially Heian?), but I’m attempting to change! We’ll see how that actually goes.
On the subject of things I’ve meant to do, it occurred to me this afternoon that I had always meant to find and purchase prints by a local Gainesville artist. I had seen her work when it was for sale at the museum store at the Harn Museum of Art at University of Florida, and had found it incredibly charming. Being a Japanophile, I had gone to see an exhibition on Kimonos from the Art Deco and Modernist period and happened to stop by the Museum Store. Given that I was moving in a few months, however, I had not purchased any prints but made a mental note to do so. After several fruitless Google searches, and an unsuccessful call to the Harn museum store for more information (in all fairness, the salesgirl I spoke to was new), I finally managed to find the artist’s name and website:
I realize that I have not posted in quite some time. Unfortunately, unlike my aristocratic Heian compatriots, I must actually work (?) for a living rather than living on the income of far off provincial estates I have never ever visited and could not find on a map. As a result, I have had less time to actively pursue an interest in all things Heian.
Nonetheless, Heian objects seem to find me. While waiting on line at a thrift store in my neighborhood recently, I happened to spot this particular mini-collage on the counter next to the register. I didn’t even find it while browsing – it was just there, waiting for me to take it, not having been placed there by an errant shopper off to find one last item.
The gentleman may not be wearing a black lacquer hat, and the lady’s hair does not appear to be long, but this little piece of decor is clearly in the Heian spirit. After all, they are both quite attractively pale and plump. It’s good to know that unlike some trends, standards of beauty never change.
Gold on indigo-dyed paper - from the later part of the Heian period.
This illustration is from the later part of the Heian period, approximately a century after Sei Shonagon and Murasaki Shikibu lived, wrote, and gossiped about each other. Considering that Buddhist compassion and forgiveness has been in the news lately following Tiger Woods’ televised apology, which contained references to his childhood visits to Thai Buddhist temples, this particular worked seemed timely. The Lotus Sutra emphasizes the Mahayana belief that Buddha’s compassion is open to all, regardless of position in life. Heian aristocrats would take comfort in such a belief, despite the fact that had a noted lack of empathy for the poor that bordered on disdain.
Zao Gongen, the protective deity of a Shinto-Buddhist cult called Shugendo
This statue of Zao Gongen can be seen in the East Asian Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Zao Gongen was the spirit of Mt Kimpu, which is south of Nara. He had previously been holding a thunderbolt scepter, which is now missing. The Fujiwaras, everyone’s favorite ruling clan, were among the adherents of Shugendo, a syncretic Shinto-Buddhist cult.