Bunjin (Literati in China) (文人)

The term "Bunjin" refers to a type of people in traditional society in China and 'an educated person who is good at literature.'

Summary
The character of Bunjin has greatly changed through long historical transitions in China, been interpreted variously and not always been identical. However, 'being educated and good at literature' was a prerequisite for a Bunjin. It was assumed that 'an educated person' had wide knowledge of studies such as History and Sinology, centering on Keisho (most important documents in Confucianism) and Keigaku (study of Keisho in Confucianism). In addition, he needs to have a talent for Chinese poetry based on such education. Being good at literature' means having an ability to write good texts and is deeply related with not only being a good writer buy also a skilled calligrapher.

Moreover, another condition for a Bunjin is that he has to be a Shijin (Shitaifu [a high ranking official from Kakyo, ancient Chinese higher civil service examinations]). In China, although it has been changed through periods, Shijin usually refers to a person who has an education of literature as Confucianist and a ruling or leading status. So, most of Bunjin were from ruling class and status such as royalty, bureaucracy, landlord and local powerful family. However, it should be noted that there were many Bunjins who did not necessarily meet these conditions after the Ming Period.

The prototype of Bunjin was seen in the Six Dynasties Period, and self-self-aware Bunjin began to appear from the third period of Chinese literature in Tang to Sung (Dynasty). They basically had the view of human and the world which was mainly based on elegance and vulgarism, and gradually came to have a spirit to seek elegance and taste and love beautiful scenery (outstanding natural beauty). At the same time, Bunjin characters became diversified to include versatility and wide interests, amateurism, anti-secularity, independency, curing and a tendency of recluse. It can be said that such added characteristics made up the common image the word 'Bunjin' conjures up today. In addition, it needs to be paid attention to that not all Bunjin clearly identified themselves as 'Bunjin' in those days, but many of them were rather classified into 'Bunjin' in later years.

It is very difficult to define Bunjin in Japan because of the difference in social system between China and Japan, and strictly speaking, its existence might be denied in Japan. However, it is true that especially after the mid-Edo period there were many clearly self-aware Bunjin in Japan and they created Bunjin culture.

Transitions

Originally, the term Bunjin referred to 'a person in a library,' and has been commonly used in China. This was because cultures had developed centering on libraries in China. It was used in contrast with 'Bunjin,' that is, military men. In general, going back farther in time, virtue (morality) was more emphasized as an important element of Bunjin, and in more recent years, refined taste was more emphasized.

The Zhou and Han periods
The oldest literature in which the word 'Bunjin' appeared dates back to the Zhou period. In "Shujing" (the Book of History) and "Shijing" of Confucianism scriptures, there are descriptions of 'a person of education and virtue' (a story of the Mao clan in "Shujing") or 'a person who was recorded because of great virtue' (a note of ZHENG Xuan). In other words, it referred to a person who was man of both learning and great virtue. Since the Confucian thought put a high value on practicality, it was regarded that leaning naturally promotes learners' virtue. In the Hang period, the term 'Bunjin' had the same meaning. Bunjin in this period were professionals who dealt with archives and political official documents as profession. The Jifu (a type of literature between poetry and prose) novelists represented by Kutsugen (a Chinese scholar-official) in Chu in the end of the Warring States Period made fu (epic of jifu) for entertaining royalty. In the Hang period, many Jifu novelist like him appeared. Around the end of the Later Han, Chinese poetry became popular and it is said that royalty and nobility often held a feast, gathering Bunjin who were good at making poems and enjoyed it. These Jifu novelists and poets of the Court were collectively called Shoyu Bunjin. Although they were bureaucrats, their influence over politics and society was limited.

WANG Chong who lived in the first half of the Later Han developed a theory on Bunjin in "Ronko" (Lunheng) for the first time in history. In 'Ronko' he classified the talents to deal with literature into five grades; 'Koju,' 'Bunjin,' 'Connoisseur,' 'Jusei' (a Confucian scholar) and 'Ordinary man,' which showed that he highly evaluated Bunjin's ability of composition.

The Six Dynasties Period
In the Six Dynasties Period, the Shijin class began to become nobility and became hereditary, partly because of the introduction of Nine rank system. Bunjin enjoyed various privileges and had no trouble making a living. As a result, they tended to indulge themselves in literature and avoid their duties as a bureaucrat because of the secular nature of their profession. It can be said that this was because the thoughts of Laozi and Zhuangzi were more influential than Confucianism at the time and gave great impact on Bunjin. In the Six Dynasties Period, the title 'Bunjin' lost its meaning as an indication of their profession or status and began to be recognized as a choice in the way of living or a sense of spiritual value for Shijin, and was continuously used in that sense after that.
In other words, the word Bunjin (Shijin) was able to cut itself off from the one-sided interpretation based on the Confucian model that 'Bunjin is a person who should govern a nation and provide relief to people.'
In addition, especially the Bunjin in this period can be called aristocratic Bunjin and it can be also said that their awareness as nobility created an attitude to disrespect the ordinary and secular. Anti-secularity,' which was one of attributes of Bunjin began to be fostered since around this time and the standards of value to reject 'secularity' and to respect 'elegance' was formed. Such standards of value were used not only for the assessment of literature but also that for kakaku (family status) and a person.

TAO Yuan Ming, a poet in the Eastern Jin, was a representative Bunjin in the Six Dynasties Period. His Chinese poetry was overly famous, but more than that, his way of living as a recluses brought a great influence on other Bunjin in later years.

The Tang and Sung periods
In the Tang period, the Imperial Examination System was established and anyone who learned was given a chance to become a bureaucrat. For this reason, Shijin lost the privileged status. For example, Shijin appeared from among the newly-risen landlord class and many people passed the imperial examination and became bureaucrats. Such Bunjin who became a bureaucrat through the Imperial Examination System in this period was especially called bureaucrat Bunjin. Because of this change in social situation, Bunjin came to have two aspects of an official bureaucrat and a private Bunjin after the Sung period through a transitional stage in the Tang period. In plain words, Bunjin came to develop a lifestyle similar to that of salaried workers today. While he steadily fulfilled duties of governing a nation and providing relief to people as a bureaucrat, he enjoyed a pastime as Bunjin in his private life. This enjoyable pastime was expanded to encompass all kinds of arts not only literature but also calligraphic works, paintings and music and became an avocation of Bunjin.
In this way, the amateurism of Bunjin originated in the fact that they pursued these pastime activities as avocation, which led to a tendency of excessively disliking them to be seen as means of living (occupation) as it appeared 'secular.'
It can be said that this was partly because the recognition of elegance and secularity which had been created in the Six Dynasties Period was sharpened more severely and ripened. Of course, in the areas of literature and arts too, 'elegance' was further sought after and being furyu (splendor) came to be emphasized.

Juyi BAI, a poet in the third period of Chinese literature in the Tang period, who was regarded as the first self-aware Bunjin, and SU Shi in the Northern Sung Dynasty, RIKU yu in the Southern Sung Dynasty and others followed him. In addition, typical Bunjin images had been formed represented by Wei WANG who was a poet of the second period of Chinese literature in the Tang period and regarded as the founder of literati painting, and LIN Ho Ching who lived in seclusion, planting Japanese plums and feeding cranes around Xi Hu (West Lake) in Sung. In the Southern Sung Dynasty period, a view of Bunjin as a person well-balanced morally and intellectually widely spread among common people. On the other hand, Bunjin were criticized as well.
Ryushi who lived in the same age as SU Shi left a teaching that 'If called Bunjin, you should think you are not good enough as a Shijin.'
In addition, CHU His also strongly criticized that some Bunjin lacked prudence. Anyway, this shows that the status of Bunjin was established in society and began to have an influence to some extent.

The end of Yuan, Ming and Qing periods
From the end of the Yuan to Ming and Qing periods, the appointment system of bureaucrats based on the Imperial Examination System took root. In accordance with it, the number of Bunjin rapidly increased,they became common and secular and found their ways into various fields of society. Even people who did not have appropriate knowledge and discernments for Bunjin came to proclaim themselves Bunjin. It was greatly criticized that Bunjin lost their substance and their quality had deteriorated. There appeared many Bunjin who completely ignored the fundamental duties of governing a nation and providing relief to people and only sought elegance and taste.
KO Enbu who lived from the end of Ming to the beginning of the Qing severely criticized Bunjin indulged themselves in a life of debauchery in his work, 'Nicchiroku.'
On the contrary, CHO Yoku who lived in the middle of the Qing Dynasty described in his book "Niju-ni shi sakki" (Reading memo on twenty-two historical books) that since society had been peaceful and enjoyed economic prosperity, people came to seek cultural life and love elegance and taste, which led to the tendency to welcome Bunjin and rise their social status.

ZHOU Shen, WEN Zheng Ming, To in and JO I who left excellent achievements in literati paintings are the typical Bunjin of this period.

Recluses

It is said that Bunjin had a strong tendency to lead a reclusive life. In addition, although the idea of recluses itself greatly changed depending on periods, it can be roughly classified into the period of Confucianist recluse before the Six Dynasties and the period of rivalry between the recluse of Confucianists and the one of Taoists after that. The existence of these two types of recluses demonstrates an essential change in the views about recluse over times.

The recluse of Confucianists are characterized by being based on the ethic of Confucianism and using recluses as means to realize their goals.
In "the Analects of Confucius" which is said to be a bible of Confucianists, there is a description that 'If there is a way in the world, you should appear, and if there is no way, you should become a recluse'
This 'way' means to achieve governing a nation and providing relief to people, which is the ultimate goal of Shijin, and to take an appropriate official position. It describes that when one is in the situation in which he can not realize this goal, for example, he has no way even if he takes an official position or he can not take an official position even if he has a way, he should become a recluse of his own will. There are many descriptions about recluse like this in "the Analects of Confucius," as well as "the Book of Mencius." Most of Shijin had high motivation and studied hard, but only a few among them were able to take an appropriate official position to govern a nation and provide relief to people. In other words, most of Shijin were unable to achieve their goals and suffered from a sense of frustration to some extent. The spread of such frustration in the bureaucracy would lead to struggles, which, as a result, would bring common people suffering. Therefore, the recluse of Shijin who could not realize his goal was considered equal to his governing a nation and providing relief to people and an appropriate ethical behavior. Hakui, whom Confucius praised as 'an old wise man,' was Shijin who became a recluse, retired from an official position of his own ill, sticking to his principles, and finally starved to death as a result of eating only warabi (a wild vegetable, bracken). In addition, Kutugen, who was called the patriarch of Bunjin, left a representative work "Riso," which was a long poem in which he mentioned that he became a recluse sticking to his principles in order to protest a nation. The ways of living of Hakui and Kutsugen gave a great influence on the future generations of Shijin (Bunjin). Their recluses can be simply understood as retirements from official ranks, unlike hiding in mountains or forests.

On the other hand, the recluse of Taoists can be said as a mean to seek or reach the truth rather than for ethical good, and recluse itself became their goal. In addition, it can be also said that some Bunjin aspired for recluse in order to keep time for indulging themselves in literature and arts.

As mentioned above, at the beginning of the Six Dynasties, Bunjin became free a little from the bind of Confusian ethics model and tried to find a new sense of value in the thought of Taoism. Against the background, a thought of the times was created that the seven wise men such as Ruan Ji and Keiko were considered ideal persons and recluse itself became an ideal way of life. However, a style of recluses called 'Shoin,' meant to abandon official ranks and retire from the world to mountain or forest, making it impossible for the recluses to hold their privileges that were the basis of their living. Therefore, it was very difficult to do it actually.

Soon, another style of recluses called 'Choin' (朝隠) appeared in stead of this. It is a way to become a recluse of spirit remaining in an official rank, which seems to include contradiction. It showed that there was an increasing number of Bunjin who put an emphasis on philosophical and religious issues rather than valuing only the absolute ethic of governing a nation and providing relief to people. However, as a result, they came to disfavor and neglect their basic duties as bureaucrats.

In the Tang and Sung periods when public matters and private matters were distinguished, a style of recluse 'Chuin' (中隠) appeared. In that style, while a Bunjin governed a nation and provide relief to people in public life, he sought the truth and indulged himself in literature or arts in his private life. A life of TAO Yuan Ming as a recluse was regarded as the first Chuin example. BAI Juyi, who was regarded as the patriarch of Bujin in recent times, was clearly aware that he was leading Chuin lifestyle. The Bunjin in the Northern Sung Dynasty such as SU Shi regarded this Chuin as an ideal.

In the Ming and Qing periods, Bunjin spent a life as an ordinary man, so that many Bunjin neither had a motivation for governing a nation and providing relief to people nor held official positions. This can be regarded as a style of recluse of 'Shiin' (市隠).

Kinkishoga (playing a zither, go [a kind of chess], calligraphic works and paintings)

Bunjin in China enjoyed public entertainments represented by Kinkishoga. In addition, poetry and tenkoku (seal-engraving) are among Bunjin's arts. There was a tendency to 'value' versatility as the people who were good at poetry, calligraphic works and paintings were praised as san-zetsu (the best article in the three kinds of art of poetry, calligraphy and painting). There appeared a complex practical art like literati painting using multiple techniques of writing a poem on a painting, sign it and putting a seal on it. However, Bunjin regarded these arts as an avocation for them to enjoy elegance and absolutely hated this to be seen as a profession. This was because working for money was a vulgar behavior which was below the standards of value of Bunjin who respected elegance. Soon there appeared a spirit that Bunjin should not show off these arts frequently even to a powerful person. There remain some episodes of Bunjin who had such rebellious spirit. TAI Ki in the Eastern Jin and FAN Ye in Song (Southern Dynasty) who were masters of kin, and TEI Shonan in Song and GEI Unrin in Yuan who were good at painting kept their prides intact without being defeated by a powerful man in those days. However, it was not actually regarded as a plebeian behavior for Bunjin to make a living by selling works as long as they did not do so to satisfy their greed, so many poor Bunjin sold calligraphic works in order to buy rice. Hakuko in the Tang period and Go Chukei and O Gensho in the end of the Yuan period sold their paintings, and SHUKU Shizan and O taku in the Ming period sold their calligraphic arts for living. In more recent times, there were more examples of such cases.
Poetry

There is room for examination in the adequacy of classifying Chinese poetry as an art of Bunjin. This is because poetry was an essential basic education for Shitaifu (Shijin) rather than Bunjin, and it was too significant to be seen as an art. In the traditional society in China after the age of the Han dynasty, poetry was an expression of Shidaifu's ideal and was regarded as an essential ability in performing the responsibility of governing a nation and providing relief to people. In the examination of the Shinshi (Daigaku student who passed a subject of the official appointment test) class, the highest level in Kakyo, testing the ability of making a poem was especially emphasized.
CAO Pi declared that 'writing is an important affair for governing a nation and its grandeur would last for good. '
It is sure that this 'writing' included poetry, and it shows that making a poetry was an essential task for a nation. Poetry in China cannot be discussed without noting its special features that it was not only a mere lyric verse but also an expression of the doctrine of Shitaifu and a mean of governing a nation and providing relief to people. BAI Juyi, a famous poet and Bunjin, described that his poems fundamentally aimed to satirize social trends and give an impact on politics in his book "Shingakufu." It can be seen as a good example where an ideal of Shidaifu was realized.
In this way, poetry had a particular meaning, but it was sometimes described in parallel with other practical arts as in 'The Three Perfections: Calligraphy, Poetry, and Painting.'
Therefore, it can be also said that Bunjin's arts were a presentation of similar intrinsic desire for expression to poetry.
Calligraphy

Calligraphy was the most familiar art to Bunjin and it is no exaggeration to say that there was no Bunjin who did not do calligraphy. In addition, most of the famous calligraphers were Bunjin (WANG Xizhi, the three experts in the Shoto period, YAN Zhenqing, the four experts in Sung, and so on). Writing was Bunjin's duty and natural endowments. Bunjin showed a severe sense of elegance and vulgarian on these letters and the style of writing, and their sense of beauty was part of the motive power for the development of calligraphic arts. The pursuit of practicability and the reform of writing material (such as a reform by Sairin) were another motive power. Mainly out of pursuit of practicability, calligraphic style changed from Kikko jukotsu moji (ancient Chinese characters inscribed on oracle bones and tortoise shells) to Kinsekibun (words written on metal or stones), from Shoten (a style of Chinese characters) to reisho-tai (clerical script) and sosho-tai (cursive style writing). It may be because demand for quicker writing grew. However, once a certain calligraphic style was established, a sense of beauty intervened and it became a subject of calligraphic art. However, once a certain calligraphic style was established, a sense of beauty intervened and it became a subject of calligraphic art. In the end of Later Han period, there appeared 'shinsho,' that is, kaisho-tai (square [block] style of writing) which was 80 % simplified from 'Hachibu', and furthermore, there appeared gyosho-tai (semi-cursive style of writing). Both styles of writing became a subject of calligraphic art. The Chinese character 'Sho' (書) originally referred to books, but came to mean calligraphic art around the Later Han period. Around this time, people's interest had clearly shifted from the calligraphy for practical use to the one for artistic purposes which emphasized artistic quality of calligraphy, and documents on calligraphic art began to appear. Calligraphic styles and ways of writing were dealt with in books such as "Hitsuron"of SO Ki, "Tensei" of SAI Yo and "Hisshinron" of CHO Shi. After the Six Dynasties Period such literary works increased in number and those were edited into "Hoshoyoroku" of ZHANG Yanyuan in the Tang period and "Syoen Seika" of CHIN Shi in Sung.
Paintings

The calligraphic works and paintings by Bunjin were known as literati paintings. This was because Dong Qichang in the end of Ming period wrote in his theory of paintings, "Gazenshitsu zuihitsu"that 'painting of Bunjin was initiated by WANG We,i' identifying WANG Wei, as the progenitor of literati paintings. However, the origin of the painting art of Bunjin can be traced back further. In "Lidai Minghuaji" (Record of Famous Painters of All the Dynasties) by ZHANG Yanyuan in Tang, many Bunjin who were good at painting were mentioned. CHO Ko (scientist), SAI Yo and CHO Ki in the Later Han Dynasty, YO Shu, KAN Han and Keiko in Wei, ZHUGE Liang in Shoku (Shu), TAI Ki, WANG Xizhi and GU Kaizhi in the Eastern Jin are examples of such Bunjin good at paintings. They were all famous Bunjin and not professional painters. In this way, there were many Bunjin who were good at painting after the Later Han period. However, it can be thought that their paintings failed to receive a certain appreciation. There is an episode that EN Rippon who lived in the second period of Chinese literature in Tang was so ashamed of being treated as a limner in the palace that his face turned red. Paintings came to be recognized as an entertainment of Bunjin after the Sung period. A theory of painting was dealt with in various literary works on painting such as "Ronga" by GU Kaizhi in Jin, " Preface to the Landscape Paintings" by SUNG Ping and "Joga" by WANG Wei in the Sung period and "Kogahinroku" by SHA Kaku in Qi (the Southern Dynasty), and soon kiin (elegance) began to be respected. This establishment of the standard of value contributed to further stirring up Bunjin's interest in painting art. BEI Futsu in the Northern Sung Dynasty described in his work, 'Gashi (the history of paintings)' that the significance of viewing calligraphic works and paintings was in 'doing Seigan (appreciating something beautiful),' which showed that artistic quality of calligraphic works and paintings came to be recognized in society. Against such a background, the theory of painting by DONG Qichang mentioned above dealt with literati painting as opposed to Intaiga (a type of Chinese painting associated with the Imperial Court Academy) by professional painters. Literati painting was basically an avocation by amateur and 'its kiin (elegance)' which could be regarded as its essence was widely accepted by Bunjin and deeply spread among Bunjin in their pastimes after Sung and Yuan periods.
Kin

Kokin (literally, 'old Kin') was such an old stringed instrument as to be mentioned in "Shikyo," together with Se (ancient Chinese plucked zither, usu. with 25 or 23 strings). In "the Analects of Confucius" and "the Book of Rites," there are descriptions that Confucius and his disciples favored playing Kin and put the highest value on it among all musical instruments. Such description can be also seen in "Soshi" (a book written by Zhuangzi). These literary works showed that Confucius carried a Kin when traveling around the country and sang to its accompaniment, and that his disciples such as Shiyu and Gankai also used it habitually. This custom of Confucius and his disciples, the founders of Confucianism, led to the fact that Confucians put the highest value on Kin and used it habitually. Kantan in the Later Han described the importance of Kin in "Shinron" (literally, 'new theory') and so did Osho (a person in Houhan in China) in "Fuzokutsu" (a book about public morals). In this thought of the times, there appeared many famous Bunjin who were good at playing Kin from the Han period to the Six Dynasties period. For example, MA Rong and Saiyo in the Later Han, Keiko in the Wei dynasty (the Three States Period) and TAI Ki in the Eastern Jin, as well as Kantan who was mentioned above were the examples. It is said that TAO Yuan Ming held a Kin with no strings and fiddled with it when he was drunk, although he could not play it. Kin was prevailed most widely in the period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties and soon declined, but it had been seen as the sole music instrument for Bunjin even in the recent times.

囲碁=>Igo (board game of capturing territory)

Igo was such an old game as to be described in Confucius words in "the the Analects of Confucius." The Chinese letter '弈' in the word '博弈' refers to Igo and the letter '博' refers to sugoroku game. In "the Analects of Confucius," both of them were treated equally. However, later generations of Confucianists seems to have rejected sugoroku game as a play of uncultivated taste. In "Igofu" written by MA Rong in the Later Han, while sugoroku game was described as a speculative and superficial gamble, Igo was described as a strategic and intellectual game. It might be because Igo was recognized as a game of elegance in light of Bunjin's sense of elegance and vulgarian. In addition, a scene of people playing Igo quietly inspired onlookers to read poetry about it, and in fact there are many poems about Igo. BAI Juyi and SU Shi made poems about Igo because they were moved by the sounds of putting stones on an Igo board.

Tenkoku (seal-engraving)

Seals in China has a long history and its origin can date back to the Warring States Period. It is no exaggeration to say that except very early days, the development of Tenkokue was promoted by Bunjin in a similar way that calligraphic works were developed by Bunjin. As a matter of course, in the area of Tenkoku which sought after artistry, Bunjin were unrivaled. Although there were books which discussed seals from an artistic point of view already in the Tang period, BEI Futsu in the Northern Sung Dynasty was regarded as the first Bunjin who engraved a Tenkoku. The literati painting which flourished in the Sung period was a comprehensive art, so the seals were also required to have high artistic value similar to Calligraphy, Poetry, and Painting and strongly influenced by the sense of elegance and vulgarian of Bunjin. However, since only a hard material of seal was known, it was difficult for Bunjin to engrave one by himself. Therefore, they had to ask a craftsman to carve a seal, telling him which letters to use. For this reason, it was after the middle of the Ming period which was more recent times that it became popular as an avocation of Bunjin after BEI Futsu. After a soft stone (qingtian stone) which was suitable for seal-engraving was discovered by WANG Mian in the end of the Yuan period, Bunjin began to engrave a seal by themselves. After the development of distribution in the Ming period made this soft material of seal more accessible, Tenkoku finally came to be popularized as an avocation of Bunjin, partly because of efforts of PENG Wen. By the end of the Qing period, many schools of Tenkoku engraving had appeared in various places, and many Tenkoku artists appeared. For example, Goshoseki who was called the last Bunjin in the Qing period was admired as Shizetsu (四絶,literally, a master of the four areas of art) because he was good at all of poetry, calligraphy and painting as well as seal-engraving.

Tenkoku can be said to be the latest art of Bunjin, which is not unrelated with economic prosperity, development of industries and technological innovation in the Chinese society.

Bunbo shumi (a culture centered on libraries)

The word "Bunbo shumi" refers to the hobbies of Bunjin in China which developed centering around Bunbo (library). Bunbo Seikyo or Bunbo Seigan are synonyms for Bunbo shumi.

Bunjin originally meant people who read books well and spend most of the time in their library and engaged in their hobbies there.
A bright and clean library was regarded as an ideal which was expressed as 'meisojoki' (literally, 'a bright window and a clean desk.'
This limited space was regarded as microcosm and almost all products of culture became a subject of taste. This germination can go back to the Hang period and it was developed from the Six Dynasties period to the Tang period and its framework was established in the Sung period. It once declined in the Yuan period, was flourished in the Ming period and its influence remained in the Qing period. While a gorgeous and elegant taste of nobility had been favored in the Six Dynasties and the Tang, a folksy and simple taste came to be favored in the Sung period. This simple taste originated from the idea of cleanness in Taoism and was expressed as a value of 'cleanliness' which encompassed both aristocratic elegant taste and folksy rustic favor. This taste of 'cleanliness' (neatness) which appeared in the Sung period was succeeded and developed in later periods and elevated a hobby which was supposed to be a mere play to an art.

A brush, black ink, ink stone and paper were representative of Bunbo Shumi. Since these are major stationery, they were also called Bunboshiho or Bunboshiyu. Although they were mere stationery, especially after the Sung period, they became the subjects of appreciation, collection, love and storing. Their production areas and craftsmen became brands and their relative merits began to be actively discussed.

However, the essence of Bunbo Shumi was not only a dilettante who always appreciated products of culture but also a pursuit of the pleasure of life at library. The customs of Chinese tea and incense which are significant part of Bunbo show that the sense of elegance and vulgarian prevailed even in taste sense and olfactory sense. On the other hand, it is also said that they have improved the quality of life and are related with training. "Chobutsushi" written in the end of Ming period (translators' notes were in the three volumes in Heibonsha, Toyo bunko) systemized this hobby best, classifying it into 12 categories of shitruro (室盧), flowers and trees, suiseki (viewing stone), birds and fish, calligraphic works and paintings, kito (几榻), instruments, fashion, ship and car, interior accessory, soka (蔬果) and komei (香茗). It should be noted that Bunbo Shumi had influence on various matters ranging from fashion to interior accessory. In addition, Bunbo Shumi was discussed in "Shinzo Kakuko Yoron" (新増格古要論) written by So Sho at the beginning of the Ming period, "清秘蔵" by CHO Obun in the end of the Ming period, "遵生八戔" by KO Ren in the Banreki era, "Kohanyoji" (考槃余事) by Toryu, and so on. There are many specialized books and some of them dealt with gardening such as flower arrangement and miniature potted plant and keeping goldfish. There are also some specialized books in unique areas such as collecting bizarre stones and raising cranes.

It can be said that an ideal life at Bunbo for Bunjin was to devote himself to the appreciation of old calligraphic works and paintings, making black ink, making a poem and having seidan (noble conversations) with friends over drinks.