The History Of Manga

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The word manga is used in reference to Japanese comic books. Renowned woodblock artist, Hokusai, created the word manga when he used two Chinese characters, man (lax) and ga (pictures) to describe his doodles. Though he was the first to name his style of art, it had its roots in Japanese artwork a millennium before he was born.

During the 6th and 7th century, Buddhism was first being introduced to Japan and many temples were being built. On two of these temples, Toshodaiji and Horyuji, the earliest examples of Japanese comic drawings, were found.

The first true resemblances of modern manga emerged in Japan during the medieval times. These narrative picture scrolls combined pictures, narrated with words, to tell stories and ran continually without frames. Changes in time, setting, and mood were shown by mist, cherry blossoms and other understood symbols. One of the most recognized authors of these scrolls is Bishop Toba who created the Chojugiga or the "Animal Scrolls."

Chojugiga (Animal Scroll) These were narrative picture scrolls that had animals in situations that mocked the Buddhist clergy. This wasn't because he was a heretic, but because the Buddhist beliefs in secularism encourage such scrolls.

The next step in the evolution of manga started in the mid 17th century. Zenga (using the same -ga as manga) or Zen Pictures were humorous religious cartoons made to serve as spiritual guides. Zen pictures were formed around the beliefs of Zen Buddhism that stresses attaining enlightenment or satori by becoming free from the world, that is the reason for the humorous outlook of these ancient comics. Zen Pictures were hardly seen by the general public until Buddhist amulets with simple cartoons were sold to commoners near the town of Otsu. They became known as Otsu-e or "Otsu pictures." Soon their themes became...