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Soami

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Sôami was a cultural advisor to Ashikaga shoguns including Ashikaga Yoshimasa.

The grandson of Nôami, another significant Ashikaga cultural advisor, Sôami advised shoguns in their acquisition and display of paintings, tea implements, and other works, as well as likely in related affairs such as the design and construction of tea rooms and exhibition spaces.

He is said to have written the Kundaikan sôchôki ("Manual of the Attendant of the Shogunal Collection"), a listing or catalog of the Ashikaga collection which came to be dispersed as the shogunate began to fall into decline following Ashikaga Yoshimasa's death in 1490. The earliest mention of this catalog known to historians dates to 1511; around that time, and afterwards, a number of manuscript copies of the catalog were produced and perhaps bought and sold. Historian Morgan Pitelka suggests that Sôami may have produced the list in order to aid daimyô and others in asserting the prestige of the objects in their collections, by providing documentation that those objects had previously been owned by the shoguns themselves. It also seems likely, however, given Sôami's close connections to the shogunate, that he simply wished to record the collection before it was dispersed, as a record of what the Ashikaga had achieved, prior to their decline. The circulation of copies of this "Manual" is said to have contributed to the growth of popularity of tea ceremony and related collection & display practices among wealthy townspeople (especially in Sakai), and to the eventual development by Murata Shukô and Takeno Jôô of wabicha practices, which incorporate appreciation and collection of fine or famous tea implements.

Sôami may have also transcribed his grandfather's Gomotsu on'e mokuroku ("Catalog of Lordly Paintings"), a circa 1460s record of the Ashikaga collections which is often identified as the earliest such collections catalog in Japan. A manuscript copy of this text produced in the Edo period is today in the collection of the Tokyo National Museum, and is a highly valuable source for scholars' knowledge of Ashikaga collecting practices.

Sôami is also known as a painter; a series of fusuma paintings of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers, held by Daisen-in, a sub-temple of Daitoku-ji in Kyoto, are identified by the temple as particularly noteworthy.[1]

References

  • Morgan Pitelka, Spectacular Accumulation, U Hawaii Press (2016), 22-24.
  1. Plaques on-site at Daisen-in, Kyoto.
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