2006 Erikthomsen Japanese

September 23, 2017 | Author: chalcyope | Category: Zen, Paintings, Arts (General)
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erik thomsen

japanese paintings and works of art

japanese paintings and works of art

erik thomsen

asian art

Sales exhibition March 31– April 5, 2006 The International Asian Art Fair The Seventh Regiment Armory Park Avenue at 67th Street, New York, NY 10021

Cover: Flowers of the Four Seasons, detail, pair of six-fold screens Anonymous artist of the Rimpa School (Nr. 1)

japanese paintings and works of art

Table of contents 5 7 33 45 59 75 84 86 92

foreword and acknowledgements screens paintings bamboo baskets ceramics lacquers signatures, seals and inscriptions notes bibliography

erik thomsen

asian art

foreword and acknowledgements It is with great pleasure that I present this inaugural

today, decades later, in immaculate condition. The

catalog, which includes a selection from my five

simple designs, such as in catalog item 22, are partic-

specialties within classical Japanese art: screens,

ularly effective against the mirror-black roiro ground,

paintings, bamboo baskets, ceramics and lacquers.

and, when examined up close, reveal superb details.

Unlike most Japanese art objects seen in the West,

Hanging scrolls and folding screens have been an

all items presented here were made, not with ex-

important part of Japanese art and culture for over

ports in mind, but rather for the Japanese market.

a millennium. In the tea ceremony, a tea master

Such artwork avoids many of the compromises and

would often select a scroll with a painting or callig-

alterations in artistic traditions that mark the art

raphy that provided the best match for the season

made to fit foreign tastes. Instead, we see works of

and occasion. Screens were also used within the tea

art that were clearly created in line with Japanese

ceremony, as well as in performances of classical

aesthetics and traditions. Most of the objects here

arts, where they functioned as dramatic or festive

were made with one or more of the four classical

backgrounds to the event.

arts in mind: the ways of tea, flowers, calligraphy, and incense (Sadô, Kadô, Shodô, and Kôdô).

I would like to thank those who made this catalog possible: the designer Valentin Beinroth for his

Ceramics used in the Way of Tea, Sadô, mirror

clean, imaginative design, attention to detail and

Japanese aesthetics especially well. The simple,

boundless energy, which kept me focused on the

imperfect shapes of tea ceramics draw our attention

catalog in spite of fairs and travels; the photogra-

to their beautiful textures and colors that can only

pher Klaus Wäldele for his patience, long working

truly be appreciated upon holding them in one’s

sessions and good eye; Hans Bjarne Thomsen, my


brother, professor in Japanese art history at the University of Chicago, for his invaluable research,

Bamboo baskets such as the ones presented in this

which uncovered several surprises; and Inger Sigrun

catalog were made for the Way of Flowers, Kadô,

Brodey, my sister, professor in literature at the

to present ikebana flower arrangements. They also

University of North Carolina, for her proof-reading

represent another important element of the tea

and good suggestions.

ceremony, or Way of Tea. Highly prized by tea masters, they commanded princely sums in the peak years of

I would also like to thank Mr. Daizaburô Tanaka,

basket making during the Taishô and early Shôwa

owner of the gallery Tanaka Onkodô in Tokyo, where

periods, ca. 1910 to 1940. Their beauty is obvious in

I apprenticed 23 years ago, and my parents, Harry

their form, and, upon closer inspection, in the skillful

and Ene Marie Thomsen, for giving me the founda-

workmanship of the fine details. Signed bamboo

tions upon which I could grow.

baskets such as these were largely unknown in the West until the acclaimed exhibition in 1999 at the

Above all I want to thank my wife, Cornelia, for all

Asia Society, New York, of the Cotsen basket

her support, encouragement, and help that she has


given me now during the catalog production and over the years. I can think of no one else who better

Lacquerwork, such as writing boxes and paper

manages the many tasks as wife, mother, exhibitor,

boxes, are intrinsic to the Way of Calligraphy, Shodô.

student and artist.

They were meant to be used, but, like most artwork in Japan, were carefully stored away into fitted boxes when not in use. As a result, they are therefore

Erik Thomsen March 2006


1 Flowers of the Four Seasons Anonymous artist of the Rimpa School Edo period (1615–1868), early 19th century

halves combine to form a coherent program: the

H 65" × W 144" each

panels furthest to the right display the only cluster

(165 cm × 366 cm)

of spring flowers, from this, the directions (like that

Pair of six-fold screens

of a handscroll) goes left, and we travel through

Ink, mineral colors, and gofun on gold foil.

groups of summer and autumn clusters. At the very end, we meet with the only winter group in the

This fine pair of Rimpa School screens presents a

screens: a small group of narcissus peeking from

journey through the four seasons of the year by

around the farthest corner.

representative plants and flowers for each season. For example, plants representing the spring are the

Similar examples may be seen in a number of

kodemari, sumire, and yamabuki. The summer is

museum collections.1

represented by the iris, lily, nadeshiko, aoi, and kiri. The fall by the chrysanthemum, morning glory, bush clover, ominaeshi, and susuki. And the winter is represented solely by the narcissus. Each of the twelve clusters on the screens represents a group of plants from a particular season. The grouping of the clusters is according to a larger plan: the larger cluster of chrysanthemums growing around a fence forms the left-most panels of the right-hand screen. This group connects to another autumn group in the right-most panels of the lefthand screen. Placed next to each other, these two

2 Birds and Flowers of the Seasons Circle of Ogata Kôrin (1658–1716) Edo period (1615–1868), early 18th century

in other works, the flowers of the autumn are clearly

H 65" × W 142 ½" each

favored: the autumn flowers are centered on an

(165 cm × 362 cm)

entire six-fold screen, while the other six-fold screen

Pair of six-fold screens

is divided among the flowers of the three other

Ink, colors, and gofun on paper


An anonymous Rimpa School artist has created a

A favorite technique of Rimpa artists can be seen

luxurious and dense undergrowth of flowering plants

here, namely the tarashikomi, a process that involves

and trees, which conceals not only additional flora,

dripping ink of differing modality into ink that has

but also a pair of quail and pheasants among its

not yet dried, thus producing a mottled effect. In

vegetation. This pair of folding screens with painting

addition, the ink modalities are carefully varied, in

in ink, colors, and gofun represents a collection of

order to create a convincing sense of depth to the

the flowering plants of the four seasons.

leafy undergrowth: there is a clearly articulated layering of leaves, important in a work with this many

There are the spring flowers, wisteria, willow, thistle,

leaves and flowers arranged on top of each other in

kodamari, suzushiro, shakuyaku, and kobushi.

a small space.

The summer plants are represented by mizuaoi, uri, tsuyukusa, iris, lily, peony, and an eggplant. The autumn plants include susuki, kikyô, keitô, nadeshiko, ominaeshi, kuzu, bush clover, morning glory, and gourds. The sole winter plant is the pine. Here, as


3 Fan Screen with Scenes from the Tales of Ise Follower of Tawaraya Sôtatsu (?–1643?) Edo period (1615–1868), early 18th century

fans significant? And are there inner meanings within

H 64 ½" × W 74"

the fans themselves? There was certainly an element

(164 cm × 188 cm)

of play within some fan screens, for example, the

Single two-fold screen

pairs by Sôtatsu in the Kunaichô and the Sanbôin

Ink, mineral colors, and gofun on paper,

of the Daigoji Temple, where each fan relates to a

with gold foil ground

specific literary source.1 The object for the viewer was then to be able to identify each scene, poem,

A follower of Sôtatsu painted this fine and early

or chapter from the available evidence. Likewise,

two-panel screen with the depiction of twelve fans,

identification was the key in examples where all the

scattered on a gold ground. Of the twelve, two are

fans on a screen stemmed from one narrative, as,

closed and ten are either fully or partly opened.

for example, fifty-four fans representing each of the

Most of the fans are seasonal in nature and depict

fifty-four chapters of the Tales of Genji.2

flowers or plants in bloom or in the process of changing colors. For example, spring is represented

This particular screen may also contain an inner

by cherry blossoms and the willow; the summer

meaning: a meaning that focused on the only figural

is represented by the hydrangea (ajisai), and the

representation in the screen, namely Prince Narihira.

autumn by the bush clover (hagi) and the maple

The placement of the Prince may be significant, as

leaves. In addition, vigorous waves are associated

we have another screen, a six-fold screen by the

with the stormy seas of the autumn. The winter is

school of Sôtatsu, that is roughly contemporary to

represented by a pair of fans to the lower left corner,

the two-fold screen in this catalog. In the six-panel

which depicts Prince Ariwara no Narihira (825–880),

screen, a fan with a seated figure appears at exactly

the main character of Ise Monogatari, on horse,

the same position, i.e., the lower left corner, on the

looking at a snow-clad Mt. Fuji in the neighboring

last panel, second to bottom fan.3 In this case, as

fan; the distance between the rider and the far-away

with the other, a courtier appears among fans whose

mountain is here represented by separating the

subjects are all seasonal markers. In the case of the

scene onto two different fans. The source of the

two-fold screen, the ensemble of fans, if indeed

image is a poem by Narihira that describes Mt. Fuji

intended as an ensemble, may all be markers to

as seen on a journey:

various poems within the Tales of the Ise. If so, this leaves the viewer (and the reader of this catalog)

Indifferent to the seasons

with a distinctly challenging game: the identification

Mount Fuji stands aloft

of all the specific poems represented by the images

Flecked like a kanako cloth

on the screen.

With fallen snow The visual representation of this famous poem usually centers on the Prince on horseback, looking over his side at the snow-clad Mt. Fuji in the distance. Fan screens present us with distinct puzzles: was the placement of the fans on the screen controlled by the artist? Are the groupings and placements of the


3 Fan Screen with Scenes from the Tales of Ise Follower of Tawaraya Sôtatsu (?–1643?) Edo period (1615–1868), early 18th century

fans significant? And are there inner meanings within

H 64 ½" × W 74"

the fans themselves? There was certainly an element

(164 cm × 188 cm)

of play within some fan screens, for example, the

Single two-fold screen

pairs by Sôtatsu in the Kunaichô and the Sanbôin

Ink, mineral colors, and gofun on paper,

of the Daigoji Temple, where each fan relates to a

with gold foil ground

specific literary source.1 The object for the viewer was then to be able to identify each scene, poem,

A follower of Sôtatsu painted this fine and early

or chapter from the available evidence. Likewise,

two-panel screen with the depiction of twelve fans,

identification was the key in examples where all the

scattered on a gold ground. Of the twelve, two are

fans on a screen stemmed from one narrative, as,

closed and ten are either fully or partly opened.

for example, fifty-four fans representing each of the

Most of the fans are seasonal in nature and depict

fifty-four chapters of the Tales of Genji.2

flowers or plants in bloom or in the process of changing colors. For example, spring is represented

This particular screen may also contain an inner

by cherry blossoms and the willow; the summer

meaning: a meaning that focused on the only figural

is represented by the hydrangea (ajisai), and the

representation in the screen, namely Prince Narihira.

autumn by the bush clover (hagi) and the maple

The placement of the Prince may be significant, as

leaves. In addition, vigorous waves are associated

we have another screen, a six-fold screen by the

with the stormy seas of the autumn. The winter is

school of Sôtatsu, that is roughly contemporary to

represented by a pair of fans to the lower left corner,

the two-fold screen in this catalog. In the six-panel

which depicts Prince Ariwara no Narihira (825–880),

screen, a fan with a seated figure appears at exactly

the main character of Ise Monogatari, on horse,

the same position, i.e., the lower left corner, on the

looking at a snow-clad Mt. Fuji in the neighboring

last panel, second to bottom fan.3 In this case, as

fan; the distance between the rider and the far-away

with the other, a courtier appears among fans whose

mountain is here represented by separating the

subjects are all seasonal markers. In the case of the

scene onto two different fans. The source of the

two-fold screen, the ensemble of fans, if indeed

image is a poem by Narihira that describes Mt. Fuji

intended as an ensemble, may all be markers to

as seen on a journey:

various poems within the Tales of the Ise. If so, this leaves the viewer (and the reader of this catalog)

Indifferent to the seasons

with a distinctly challenging game: the identification

Mount Fuji stands aloft

of all the specific poems represented by the images

Flecked like a kanako cloth

on the screen.

With fallen snow The visual representation of this famous poem usually centers on the Prince on horseback, looking over his side at the snow-clad Mt. Fuji in the distance. Fan screens present us with distinct puzzles: was the placement of the fans on the screen controlled by the artist? Are the groupings and placements of the


4 Cranes of Summer and Autumn Tosa School Edo period (1615–1868), 18th century

combined the two compositions. When placed next

H 28 ¼" × W 98 ¾" each

to each other, as intended, large growths of autumn

(72 cm × 251 cm)

flowers anchor the extremes of the larger composi-

Pair of six-fold screens

tion. The autumn flowers are composed of various

Ink, mineral colors and gofun

types of chrysanthemums as well as the kikyô plant

on paper and gold foil

(a Chinese bellflower). The area between the two large groups of plants is punctuated by smaller plant

Here four pairs of cranes are shown inhabiting a

groups, both autumnal plants (chrysanthemums and

marshy landscape against a rich gold background.

marshy reeds) and summer plants (iris and mizuaoi).

The cranes represent the different species that frequent the Japanese archipelago. The image,

In other words, the land mass to the extreme right

of course, represents an ideal space, one in which

and left represents autumn, and the lake, the space

the stylized cranes can strike poses and be shown

that unites the two, represents summer. Traversing

next to the flowers and plants of different seasons,

this distance in time, seasons, and space, are the

blooming at the same time within the space of the

cranes and plants, all of which are shown, one after

screen surface.

the other, in striking poses. The artist has incorporated a relationship of equality between the plants

The two halves of the screen pair were made to

and cranes, all of which occupy about the same

be shown together, and the lake that is depicted

space and have been shrunk (or expanded) to

on both was constructed as the spatial unit that

appear to be the same height and volume as each other. Moreover, the spacings and compositions had been ably planned out on the basis of the twelve individual panels of the screens: the artist has succeeded in creating within each panel pair (traditionally thought out as a unit), a balanced, independent composition. An interesting aspect of the screen is the signature to the right extreme of the combined pair. The signature was clearly added later, as can be seen by the discoloration of the gold surrounding the signature. Another name was probably removed and replaced by one which reads »by the brush of Tosa Mitsuoki, the [honorary] Imperial Guard« and a seal marked Fujiwara.1 Both names and honorary title are associated with the artist Tosa Mitsuoki (1617–1691), the most important Tosa school painter of the last four hundred years. Although the work is a very fine example of the 18th century Tosa School, a previous owner apparently felt it necessary to try to improve on the pedigree of the screen by changing the artist’s name to that of a better-known artist.


5 Four Elegant Pastimes Shibata Zeshin (1807–1891)


Meiji period (1868–1912), 19th century

This pair is an important work in the oeuvre of Shibata

H 48 ½" × W 109" each

Zeshin. It is one of four variations on a theme by an

(123 cm × 277 cm)

older painting. The screen pair with painting in ink,

Signed (right screen): »Zeshin,« with

black lacquer and mineral colors depicts women and

Zeshin jar seal. (left screen): »emulating older

men partaking in the four classical Chinese elegant

paintings, Zeshin« (Koga ni narau Zeshin); with

pastimes. The four pastimes, or the kinki shoga,

Zeshin jar seal

were traditionally the koto (musical instrument),

Pair of six-fold screens

chess, calligraphy, and painting. Within these panels

Ink, colors, gofun, and lacquer on paper

the four undergo humorous changes: the musical

instruments become the samisen and the biwa,

Zeshin based his composition on the famous Hikone

chess becomes backgammon and go, calligraphy

Screen, a single, six-fold screen from the early

becomes the act of letter writing, and paintings

seventeenth century.1 The screen is presently in a

become the pair of standing screens located within

Hikone museum, but was at the time of Zeshin in a

the right screen.

rich merchant’s house, where Zeshin was allowed to study it closely. From the study and reworking of the

The left screen is signed »emulating older paintings,

Hikone Screen emerged four innovative variations

Zeshin (Koga ni narau Zeshin) and sealed Zeshin;

on the Hikone theme. As a truly inspired artistic

while the right screen is signed and sealed Zeshin.

personality, Zeshin was not satisfied with making a


mere copy and made all four versions significantly

that likely joined four panels of one screen with

different from each other.

two from another) and stretched it out into a unified twelve-panel composition. Up close, both the new

In this particular version, two of the figures are

and old versions show a similar emphasis on textile

straight copies from the Hikone Screen, but many

patterns; however, Zeshin also introduces new fea-

others are adaptations, many by slightly changing

tures, such as the innovative use of black lacquer in

angles of depiction. For example, the girl pointing

the women’s hair.

at the two screens in the present version appears in the Hikone Screen as a girl pointing in the opposite

Of the four sets that Zeshin made from the Hikone

direction. Likewise, entirely new figures abound,

original, one is in the collection of the Metropolitan

most notably the three central dancers. In effect,

Museum, New York, and illustrated in Gôke, vol. 1,

Zeshin started with a single six-panel screen (one

ills. 219–220. The second is in the Lee Institute for


Japanese Art at the Clark Center, Hanford, CA, and illustrated in Gôke, vol. 1,


The third is the

Provenance: Collection of Fujiyama Raita 藤山雷太 (1863–1938)

present screen pair, illustrated in Gôke, vol. 1, ills. 221–222. And the fourth is a pair that has not yet


been illustrated, but rests in a private Japanese col-

Yugei no Bi at the Fukuoka Municipal Art Museum

lection.3 Most of the four have been passed down

in 1997.

in prestigious collections; the present pair was, for a long time, in the collection of the industrialist


Fujiyama Raita (1863–1938).

Gôke Tadaomi, ed. Shibata Zeshin meihinshû: Bakumatsu kaikaki no shikkô kaiga. 2 vols. Tokyo: Gakken, 1981, vol. 1, item 221–222.


6 Flower Viewing Season in the Pleasure Quarters Attributed to Bai’ôken Eishun 梅翁軒永春 (active 1704–1763) Edo period (1615–1868), circa 1710–1720

be seen to the back of the building; here the doors

H 42" × W 89 ½"

are almost closed, leaving, however, a crack open

(107 cm × 227 cm)

to allow the viewer a voyeuristic glance into the

Single six-fold screen

interiors, where a woman is seated and attending

Ink, mineral colors, and gofun on paper

a reclining figure, whose identity cannot be ascertained. The room seems to be lit by an andon lamp,

This early nikuhitsu screen presents the viewer with a

whose light casts the shadows of the shapes within

festive flower viewing scene, complete with interior

the rooms on the paper-covered sliding doors.

scenes of lounging courtesans and outside scenes of playing children and performers. The scene to the

The exterior scene, that occupies the entire left side

right describes two buildings within a certain plea-

of the screen, shows a larger group of people enjoy-

sure quarter. Judging from the bucket and brooms

ing a whole range of activities. This is a typical genre

attached the roof of the building seen below and

scene showing the various contemporary games and

from the blossoming cherry trees lining the streets

occupations. We have a prominently placed blind

surrounding the two houses, this may well refer to

masseur, here seeming to dance with two young

the Yoshiwara area of Edo.1

women, while observed by a large male figure. Other girls are playing, some with a long stick, others

The interior scene describes a number of courtesans

breaking a branch off the cherry tree, still others are

in relaxed modes; they are seen conversing, drinking

playing with a kemari ball. A dog painted on the far

rice wine, and playing the samisen, a three-stringed

left completes the last of the six panels.

musical instrument. One group of courtesans, in finely-differentiated kimono, enjoys the flowering

The painting is unusual for its creative combination

cherry trees from an open room that has had its

of two known genres: one a type that shows scenes

sliding doors removed. An interior room can also

within the Yoshiwara quarters, and the other showing the daily occurrences of commoners, usually in terms of street scenes. The combination may well connect to the possible authorship by Bai’ôken Eishun, who was an Osaka artist known for his wide repertoire, with not only paintings, but with an oeuvre that includes both surimono prints and illustrated books.2 A number of paintings are known by the hand of this exceptionally long-active artist, including key works in the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.3 Provenance: Formerly in the collection of the Manno Art Museum, Osaka, Japan Published: Kobayashi Tadashi, ed. Manno Bijutsukan, Ukiyoe nikuhitsu taikan, vol. 7. (Tokyo: Kodansha, 1996), cat. nr. 32.



7 Hakuin Ekaku (1685–1768) Edo period (1615–1868), circa 1765

was one of the key rituals in Zen Buddhism, Hakuin’s

H 35 ¼" × W 9" (incl. mounting 66 ½" × 12 ½")

choice of the seated meditating Bodhidharma

(90 cm × 23 cm, 169 cm × 32 cm)

seems quite apt.

Three seals of artist: Kokanki, Hakuin and Ekaku Hanging scroll, ink on paper

The painting is not, however, simply an illustration of a Buddhist dictum; there are artistic traditions

Bodhidharma in Meditation, Facing a Wall

and other layers of meaning behind the painting.

(Menpeki Daruma 面壁達磨)

One striking aspect of the painting is its brushwork and ink modulation. It is clear that the brush moved


quickly to create the seated figure and inscription in a few dramatic strokes, paying little attention to


finer modulation of line. However, by using coarsely ground ink and heavy-sized paper, Hakuin was

Become the master of your heart,

able to create a dramatic mottling effect within the

and do not let it master you.

individual lines of the figure.3 The dramatic tonal contrasts within the lines, the vigorous speed of the

Kokoro no shi to nari, kokoro no shi wa nashi

brush, and the immediacy of the brushwork significantly heightens the intensity of the painting. In

In this dramatic hanging scroll, the Zen Buddhist

addition, the curious mottling effect of the ink also

monk Hakuin has adopted an admonition from the

increases the presence of the figure: the lines seem

Six Parmitas Sutra, and placed it in the context

to imply age and a sense of permanence. Although

of a meditating Bodhidharma (J. Daruma)


brushed in only a few strokes, the figure acquires

The sutra text admonishes the reader (and, in

paradoxically a sense of monumentality that goes

extension, Hakuin his viewer) to disregard his or her

beyond its actual space on the paper. The technique

own heart, or worldly matters, and to instead focus

is closely connected to the message: they reempha-

one’s energy on ruling the passions. By depicting

size the immobility and greatness of the Zen Bud-

the meditating Bodhidharma beneath this phrase,

dhist patriarch and create a sense of timelessness

Hakuin may well be indicating that strict adherence

for Bodhidharma as well as for Buddhist rituals and

to Zen Buddhist doctrines and rituals such as seated

doctrine. Hakuin uses the mottled ink technique in

meditation is the correct way to become the master

other paintings, including other forms of the seated

of one’s passions.

Bodhidharma, but in few other example has he so successfully created a simple figure of monumental

A meditating Bodhidharma, here facing an imagi-

strength through so few lines.4

nary wall, is a singularly apt symbol of strict adherence to ritual. The central, defining event in the life

The painting is clearly also intended to take a place

of Bodhidharma, a semi-legendary monk, credited

in the »one-brushstroke Bodhidharma« (Ippitsu

with bringing Zen Buddhism from India to China in

Daruma) tradition, in which the robes of the Bod-

the sixth century CE, was seen as his single-minded

hidharma were drawn with one continuous stroke

period of meditation, said to have been conducted

of the brush.5 The tradition ultimately derives from

in a cave, facing a blank stone wall, for nine years.

early Chinese depictions of the patriarch, in which

Distractions were done away with, for example,

the robes were described with a bare minimum of

after falling asleep during meditation, he tore away

strokes. Numerous examples of one-brushstroke




Moreover, as seated meditation (zazen)

paintings exist, including a Sengoku period (1334–

1392) example at the Erinji Temple in Kai that may

depth from the deeper implications of this switch in

have served as a prototype for Hakuin as well as

identities. By representing himself as iconic figures,

examples by Shôkai Reiken (1315–1396), Isshi (1608–

Hakuin challenges our preconceptions through

1646), and other Zen monks of the Edo


flashes of insight and humor.

Hakuin, however, takes that pictorial tradition a step further by incorporating another word-and-image

Although this painting was probably performed as

tradition, that of incorporating hidden characters

a sekiga (»seat painting«) or a performance piece

and messages into an image.

completed in an instant with only a few brushstrokes at a communal occasion, the painting is by

The idea of hiding characters within images is an

no means a trifle of little meaning. Many layers and

older Japanese tradition that has been incorporated

traditions operate behind this seemingly simple

into a number of media, including sutra frontispiece

painting, giving it a profound sense of depth and

paintings and lacquer boxes. Hakuin, however,

importance and, at the same time, playing humor-

seems to have been the first to combine the two

ous games with the viewer. Hakuin’s paintings were

into a single image. The question then arises for

never entirely serious or entirely playful: forming a

the viewer: what specific character? Various authori-

key element within his complex and timeless art.

ties have attempted to describe Hakuin’s seated Bodhidharma figure as one character: Katô Shôshun

The painting is housed in a fitted kiri wood box,

suggests that it represents the character gu (愚,

certified and inscribed in 1960 by Tsûzan Sôkaku

»foolishness«), and others the character nin (忍 en-

(1891–1974), the seventeenth abbot of Hakuin’s

durance). Both are possible in terms of the standard

temple, the Shôinji Temple, in Hara.

Japanese reductions of Chinese characters. Another possibility is the character in (the right part of the

Published: Morita Shiryû. Bokubi Tokushû: Hakuin

character 隠) that forms Hakuin’s own name. This is

Bokuseki. Kyoto: Bokubisha, 1980, nr. 279.

supported by a pair of Menpeki Daruma paintings in the Konchi’in Temple in Tokyo.7 The two paintings of the pair were painted by Hakuin at the same time to commemorate the meeting between him and Gudô 愚堂, a fellow Rinzai sect monk. From reading the inscriptions, it is clear that the two seated figures were the two friends, reduced to simple Chinese characters of gu and in, representing Gudô and Hakuin.8 This is then a clear case where the seated Daruma can represent the name of Hakuin and also a clear indication that Hakuin’s Menpeki Daruma may have multiple meanings. In other words, the seated Bodhidharma painting in this catalog may also be a playful representation of the monk Hakuin himself engaged in seated meditation. If so, this would also play in with the Hakuin we know from other paintings, where the painter sometimes takes the place of Daruma, Hotei, or other figures, thereby gaining complexity from the layering of identities and


8 Hakuin Ekaku (1685–1768) Edo period (1615–1868), Late 1750’s

Chinese versions usually showing him in a group

H 12 ¾" × W 12 ½" (incl. mounting 60 ¾" × 18 ¾")

image with other legendary rulers, while Japanese

(32.5 cm × 32 cm, 154.5 cm × 47.5 cm)

artists have tended to depict him alone, seated on

Three seals of artist: Rinzai seishû, Hakuin, and

a rock in wilderness. Notable Japanese depictions

Ekaku no in

of Shennong include those made by Hakuin, Sesson

Hanging scroll, ink on silk

Shûkei (1504–1589), Kano Tsunenobu (1636–1713), and Ike Taiga (1723–1776), but a whole range of

God of Agriculture Viewing Waterfall

painters, carvers, and printmakers participated in

(Takimi Shinnô zô 瀧見神農像)

the tradition.2 Interest in the god increased during the eighteenth century—at which time this image


was made—partly through the renewed interest in Chinese culture, through the importation of Chinese

撃草知薬 / 劉木為犁 / 人身牛首 / 斯道神農氏

visual materials, and through the antiquarian interest of Japanese sinophile cultural figures.

Crushing herbs to understand medicines, uprooting trees to plow the land.

At the same time, this painting by Hakuin presents

Human body and head of ox:

us with a number of innovations in this venerable

this is the way of the Shennong

tradition. One curious departure in this painting, which the Hakuin scholar Takeuchi Naoji has

Kusa o uchi, yaku o shiru / Ki o koroshite, suki to

described as possessing a strange expression for

nasu / Karada wa hito, kubi wa ushi / Shidô Shin-

a works from his last years,3 is the ox head and


the rope leash worn around its neck. While the ox head was long an aspect of the literary tradition

The exotic figure with human form and ox head

of Shennong that emphasized a human body and

in this painting is Shennong (J. Shinnô), a legend-

an ox head, the visual tradition has persisted in

ary ruler of China first mentioned by Mencius and

depicting his head in mostly human form, hinting at

also known as the Emperor of


He is said to

the ox connection through the pair of horns on his

have taught humans a variety of abilities, includ-

forehead.4 Hakuin’s depiction of a fully bovine face

ing the use of fire, the ways of agriculture, and the

makes that aspect explicit and marks a significant

knowledge of herbs and medicine. The complex

departure from tradition—seemingly unprecedented

mythological status of this god is retold in numerous

in the visual culture of Japan and China. Hakuin may

sources, including his conception at the sight of a

in part have been influenced by Hakutaku images,

dragon and an upbringing in the wilderness. At one

where depictions of the ox-headed creature vary

time, he is also said to have harnessed dragons in

between a human face and an ox-like head.5

order to measure the circumference of the earth. Another unusual feature of the painting is the Shennong’s legendary status is also emphasized by

placement of a seated Shennong by a waterfall.

visual media that usually depict the god with horns,

Hakuin has in fact taken the iconography of the

wildly unkempt hair, and clothes made of natural

waterfall-viewing Kannon Takemi Kannon and

leaves. He usually also holds blades of grass in his

adapted that to the Shennong. While Hakuin has

hand or mouth, symbols of his knowledge of herbs.

made a number of waterfall-viewing Kannon figures

A long tradition of depicting Shennong in paint-

with similar compositions, upon looking through

ings and sculpture exists throughout East Asia, with

Hakuin’s extant oeuvre, it becomes apparent that


this work represents the unique example of a waterfall composition centered about a person who is not the Kannon. It is hard to give a specific reason for this change in iconography, except to point to other examples where Hakuin has excluded, merged, and otherwise adapted iconographical features of his subjects. In such variations we clearly see the hand of an experimenting artist, unafraid of trying new ideas in his paintings.6 The composition may also relate to the unusual small, square format of the painting, in which the god could hardly be seen standing up, which is how Hakuin usually presented Shennong in his paintings.7 The combination of unusual factors of this painting, including the above-mentioned features, its appearance on silk, the high state of finish and details, the unusual square format, and the unusual calligraphic style, point to a special occasion and purpose. Perhaps it was made for a special customer? Hakuin often did so, according to other documented cases. Here we may look at the topic of this painting. We know that it was a common yearly ritual for medical doctors and pharmacists to display an image of Shennong at the winter solstice and to make offerings to the god. And we also know that Edo-period doctors were often wealthy collectors of art works. It would make perfect sense for Hakuin to have made this finely painted work on relatively costly silk for such a person in return for a generous contribution to Hakuin’s Shôinji Temple. The painting is housed in a fitted kiri wood box, certified and inscribed in 1960 by Tsûzan Sôkaku (1891–1974), the seventeenth abbot of Hakuin’s temple, the Shôinji Temple, in Hara. Published: Takeuchi Naoji. Hakuin. (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobô, 1964), 80.


9 Watanabe Gentai (1748 – 1822) Edo period (1615–1868)

short time in the country, created great interest in

H 19 ½" × W 27 ¼" (incl. mounting 54 ¼" × 33 ½")

his painting style which was new for the Japanese.

(49.4 cm × 69.3 cm, 138 cm × 85 cm)

After his departure, he left behind a growing group

Inscribed: Hen’ei

of followers, which is popularly referred to as the

Seals: Hen and Ei

Nagasaki school of painting. The inspiration if

Hanging scroll, colors and ink on silk

not prototype of this particular painting was likely a work of this school: we see the characteristics

The artist has depicted five finely-detailed horses

through the strong color contrasts of the horses; the

in a marshy meadow by a lake. Each of the horses

balanced composition of the work; the lush, marshy

seems to be of a different color and type and each is

placement of the work; and the strong ink brushwork

shown in a different activity: whether drinking water,

of the tree trunks.

grazing, scratching its head, looking away, or simply lying down. The season is clearly spring and the soft,

This painting seems also to be a loose adaptation

light greens of the willow branches and meadow,

of the popular Chinese Eight Horses of Mu Wang

as well as the light blues and grays of the lake and

theme, in which eight horses of different colors and

far-away shores, form the stage for the bright and

types belonging to a legendary emperor are shown

assertive colors of the five horses.

in a marshy meadow. Typically they are shown in expressive freedom, interacting with each other in an

The artist of this painting, Watanabe Gentai (1748–

equine paradise, without the interference of human

1822), was one of the many talented students of

beings. Three Chinese horses, however, get lost in

the Edo-based painter Tani Bunchô (1763–1840).

the translation to this particular Japanese paint-

Gentai’s connection to Bunchô may be seen here in

ing, and as a result, the connection to the story of

his interest in naturalistic detail and harmonic color

the Chinese emperor becomes loosened, but other

patterns, as well as in his interest in contemporary

elements, such as the setting and the idea of the

Chinese paintings, particularly the type made popu-

freedom-loving horses are kept. Gentai may have

lar by the Qing dynasty painter Shen Nanping and

chosen a smaller number of horses in order to better

his followers. Shen traveled to Japan and, during his

show the individual details of the horses. After his apprenticeship with Bunchô, Gentai started an atelier of his own and succeeded in establishing a smaller school by training sons and relatives, who in turn trained their offspring. He seems to have been successful in gaining customers during a time of intense competition between artists, perhaps by balancing the public’s interest in China and other foreign countries with domestic needs, such as paintings of animals for the various zodiac years. This painting was very possibly created for such a purpose, for a discriminating merchant who needed a painting for the year of the horse.


bamboo baskets

10 Iizuka Rôkansai (1890–1958) Shôwa period (1926–1989), circa 1936–1941

with those illustrated for 1936–1949 in Iizuka Rôkansai:

H 9 ¾" × L 10 ¼" × W 10"

Master of Modern Bamboo Crafts (Tochigi Prefectural

(25 cm × 26 cm × 25.5 cm)

Museum of Fine Arts, 1989, pages 118–119); the box

Signed: Rôkansai saku

signature most closely matches those illustrated for 1936–41.

The striking bamboo ikebana basket illustrated here is a masterpiece by Rôkansai. The cubic form

For similar bamboo works by Rôkansai, see Iizuka

is simple yet bold and dramatic. In keeping with

Rôkansai: Master of Modern Bamboo Crafts, e.g.,

the simple form, the handles are composed of two

item 18, a cubic brazier (ca. 1927) and item 32, a

short cylindrical sections. The body is woven with

flower basket using a similar architecture of dark

light-colored split bamboo in the triangular asa-no-

vertical supports against a light body (ca. 1932).

ha pattern and is dramatically offset by dark brown vertical supports, which continue from the inside to

Rôkansai is widely acknowledged as the greatest

the outside and from one side to the other, crossing

Japanese basket maker of the 20th century. The

each other below and thereby forming a dynamic

sixth son of the basket maker Hôsai I, he started out

pattern on the bottom. The two wide flattened

making intricate baskets in the karamono-style but

bamboo sections are the most striking feature of

went on to develop many new ideas and techniques.

this basket.

He pioneered modern bamboo crafts and exerted great influence on numerous post-war bamboo artists.

It is signed on the side with an incised signature

His works are in the collections of many institutions,

reading »Rôkansai saku« or »made by Rôkansai.«

including the Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art

It comes with the original fitted sugi wood box,

and Idemitsu Museum of Art.

which is inscribed on the top of the beveled lid »Hanakago« or »Flower Basket.« On the inside of the lid it is titled »Shikô« or »Four Bright Things,« which refers to the wide bamboo strips on the four sides; signed »Rôkansai saku« or »made by Rôkansai;« and sealed Rôkansai. The red oval seal is consistent


11 Iizuka Rôkansai (1890–1958) Taishô period (1912–1926), 1910’s

Accordingly, Rôkansai must have inscribed and signed

H 11 ½", D 11 ¾"

this box between 1920 and 1934, but the basket itself

(29 cm, 30 cm)

is an earlier work by him, made probably in the late

Signed: Rôkansai

1910‘s. The original box had been lost and he signed this replacement box later for the owner of the basket,

This round ikebana basket by the bamboo artist

using more valuable kiri wood.

Rôkansai is woven with darkly colored split bamboo in the square yottsu-me pattern, here arranged

For a similar bamboo basket using the same weave

diagonally; the inside bottom is in the hexagonal

in a round form, see Iizuka Rôkansai, item 5, a flower

kumo-no-suajiro (spider web) pattern.

basket from circa 1924.

The basket is signed on the bottom with an incised

For biographical details on Rôkansai, see previous

signature reading Rôkansai. It comes with a fitted

catalog entry.

kiri wood box, which is inscribed on the top of the beveled lid »Hanakago« or »Flower Basket.« On the inside of the lid, he signed »Rôkansai kyû-saku« or »made long ago by Rôkansai,« and stamped three red seals, together reading Rôkansai. According to Iizuka Rôkansai: Master of Modern Bamboo Crafts (Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, 1989, pages 118–119), this set of three red seals was used by Rôkansai from the early 1920’s to circa 1934. The signature is consistent with those illustrated in this catalog of the large Rôkansai exhibition in 1989 at the Tochigi Prefectural Museum of Fine Arts, where 110 of his works were exhibited.


12 Maeda Chikubôsai I (1872–1950) Shôwa period (1926–1989), circa 1930 H 16" × L 15 ¾" × W 6 ½" (41 cm × 40 cm × 16.8 cm) Signed: Chikubôsai kore tsukuru According to Chikubôsai’s box inscription, this outstanding bamboo ikebana basket is made in the shape of a drum; it could, however, equally well be in the shape of the full moon. Indeed, a very similar basket is illustrated and entitled »Moon-shaped flower basket« in Japanese Bamboo Baskets: Masterworks of Form & Texture from the Collection of Lloyd Cotsen (Los Angeles, Cotsen Occasional Press, 1999), item number 91. Apart from the dramatic design, the exceptionally fine details using numerous weaving techniques sets this basket apart. It is a delight to examine the basket details up close. The basket is signed on the bottom with an incised signature reading »Chikubôsai kore tsukuru« or »this made by Chikubôsai.« It comes with a copper liner for ikebana use and with the original fitted sugi wood box, which is inscribed on the top of the lid »Taiko-shiki Hanakago« or »Drum-shaped Flower Basket.« On the inside of the lid it is signed »Senyô Kuzezato Chikubôsai-zô« or »made by Chikubôsai of the Senyô Studio in Kuzezato« and bears a red seal reading Chikubôsai.


Chikubôsai was one of the greatest basket makers of the Kansai region. His son, Chikubôsai II (1917– 2003), continued the tradition and was named a Living National Treasure for the bamboo crafts in 1995.

13 Morita Chikuami Active circa 1900–1935 Taishô period (1912–1926), circa 1920 H 24", D 7 ½" (61 cm, 19 cm) Signed: Chikuami kore tsukuru This elegant basket in the karamono-style has a tall handle and a hexagonal body that becomes round at the opening. It is woven using a combination of very narrow split bamboo strips and wide lacquered bamboo pieces. The basket is signed on the bottom with an incised signature reading »Chikuami kore tsukuru« or »this made by Chikuami.« It comes with the original fitted wood box, which is inscribed on the top of the lid »Hanakago« or »Flower Basket.« On the inside of the lid it is signed »Chikuami zô« or »made by Chikuami« and bears a round red seal reading Chikuami. Chikuami was the artist name of Morita Shintarô, who lived in Kyoto and was active from the late Meiji to early Shôwa periods.


14 Tanabe Chikuunsai II (1910–2000) Shôwa period (1926–1989), circa 1950

makers of Osaka. Chikuunsai I lived from 1877 to

H 23 ¾", D 8 ¼"

1937; this basket was made by his son Chikuunsai

(60.5 cm, 21 cm)

II; he in turn passed on the artist name to his oldest

Signed: Chikuunsai kore tsukuru

son, Chikuunsai III (b. 1940), in 1991.

This tall bamboo ikebana basket in double-gourd shape is woven with very narrow strips of split bamboo. The attractive shape is enhanced by the superb details throughout the basket using numerous weaving techniques. In spite of its size, it is surprisingly light in weight. The basket is signed on the bottom with an incised signature reading »Chikuunsai kore tsukuru« or »this made by Chikuunsai.« It comes with the original fitted kiri wood box, which is inscribed on the top of the lid »Hyô-gata Taka-te Hanakago« or »Gourdshaped Flower Basket with Tall Handle.« On the inside of the lid it is signed »Sakaifu Nansô Chikuunsai zô« or »made by Chikuunsai of the Nansô Studio in Sakai-fu« and bears two red seals reading »Tanabe no in« (»seal of Tanabe«) and Chikuunsai. The artist name Chikuunsai belongs to the Tanabe family, one of the most important bamboo-basket


15 Chikuunsai II (1910–2000) Shôwa period (1926–1989), dated 1969

For biographical details on Chikuunsai, see previous

H 9", D 14 ½"

catalog entry.

(22.6 cm, 37 cm) Signed: Chikuunsai zô The illustrated large bamboo ikebana basket is woven in the hexagonal muttsu-me pattern using very narrow split bamboo strips. Entitled »En« or »circle,« it was exhibited at the 8th Japanese Contemporary Art Exhibition in 1969. The artist signed the basket on the bottom with an incised signature reading »Chikuunsai zô« or »made by Chikuunsai.« It comes with the original fitted kiri wood box, which is entitled on the top of the lid »En« and inscribed »Kikkô-sukashi-ami Hanakago« or »Hexagonal Open-Mesh Weave Flower Basket.« On the inside of the lid, it bears the inscription »Dai Hachi-kai Nihon Gendai Kôgei Bijutsu Tenrankai Shuppin« or »Exhibited at the 8th Japanese Contemporary Art Exhibition« and is signed »Tekisuikyo Chikuunsai zô« or made by »Chikuunsai of the Tekisuikyo Studio« and stamped with two red seals reading »Tanabe no in« (»seal of Tanabe«) and Chikuunsai.



16 Hagi Tea Bowl, Named Usumomiji »Pale Fall Colors« Edo period (1615–1868), 18th century

the finely carved foot with the janome kôdai, or

H 3 ¼" × L 5 ½"

»snake-eye« foot, completed with a finely formed

(8.5 cm × 14 cm)

Kugibori »carved nail« pattern in the center, formed

With fitted silk brocade pouch

while turning on the potter’s wheel. The wabi aes-

and inscribed kiri wood box.

thetics of incompletion are especially effective when areas of unbalance and spontaneity are contrasted

This striking Hagi tea bowl (chawan) carries with it

with such areas of planned symmetry.

a long history of the tea ceremony and a complex layering of meaning. The bowl has received its name

The name of the bowl, Usumomiji, or »pale autumn

from a tea master and it has been handed down in

colors,« likely refers to the unusual patterning of the

Japanese tea master collections for centuries and

glaze, which varies in color from creamy white to

comes with its set of pedigree.

light red as one looks across the mottled surface of the bowl. The bowl seems to have been praised for

The bowl was turned on the potter’s wheel as seen

the colors and for the poetic connotations that they

in its overall symmetric form: the body curves out

would awaken, especially in the fall tea season. The

gracefully from a small well-formed foot, creat-

word itself appears quite often in Japanese poetry

ing rows of lines on the lower half of the bowl and

and many poems use the word as a marker of the

culminating in a slightly asymmetric, uneven rim.

season and for creating specific settings with their

The bowl has been immersed in a vat of glaze into

deeper implications.2 In giving names to bowls, it

which it was dipped two or three times, as can be

was important to choose a name that would awaken

seen in the uneven application of glaze close to the

poetic connotations, either to specific poems or to

foot. Some glaze was even splashed on to the foot

broader poetic sentiments.3

itself, a sign of the speed with which the application was undertaken, adding to the sense of spontane-

This bowl has a fascinating pedigree, as listed on

ity that was highly prized by the tea connoisseurs.

the outermost paper wrapper. The inscription to

Other spontaneous expressions of wabi, the tea

the lower left describes the nature of the various

term that denote the sense of incompleteness and

layers of appreciation and inscriptions that have


grown around this particular tea bowl. First of all, it

can be seen in the small circles of

unglazed areas on the side of the bowl; these could

describes the »three-character ink inscription« on

have been bubbles in the glaze that hindered the

the wooden box to have been written by a Hokô

direct contact of the glaze to the clay surface. With

甫公, which we know to be one of the artist names

time, these imperfections have become emphasized

used by the noted tea master, Kobori Enshu 小堀遠州

through the tea stains on the glaze on the inside of

(1579–1647).4 The inscription goes on to say that a

the bowl, which represent evidence of appreciation

paper attachment (kakitsuke) has a »four character

and constant use of the object within the tea world.

inscription« by a Sôchû, who is Kobori Sôchû Ma-

The stains have with time highlighted the glaze im-

sayasu 小堀宗中政優 (1786–1867), the eighth genera-

perfections by forming circular stains around them.

tion head of the Enshû school, originally founded by Enshû. Another layer in this trail of tea appreciation

The piece was made by a potter who was highly

and tea bowl ownership is provided by the unidenti-

aware of tea aesthetics and of the need to produce

fied writer of this inscription, who, by tradition, does

imperfect elements within a controlled framework.

not write his own name.5 We can only assume that

The areas of imperfection are here balanced by

he was the owner of the tea bowl after Sôchû parted

areas of total control and symmetry, for example,

with it.


It is possible to match other evidence to these assertions. Enshû was known for his ability to provide poetic names and many examples of bowls that were named by him exist; moreover, the inscription on the box is done in his well-known calligraphic style. Also, Sôchû was known for his reinvigoration of the Enshû line, which had fallen into disrepair; he was known for his immense collection of tea utensils and also for his unusual running script calligraphic style.6 While we do see both the Enshû-like three-character inscription on the box and a Sôchû-like four-character inscription on a (now tattered) piece of paper that belongs to the top of it, other elements need to be taken into consideration before conclusions can be made. One is a list of objects in the collection of Enshû, the Enshû kurachô 遠州蔵帳, which is a long list of items owned by Enshû and his son, as written by Kobori Sôjitsu, the third generation head. Our bowl is not listed on this document. Also, the age of the ceramic bowl itself, is more likely to be eighteenth century than seventeenth century. One possible conclusion is that the bowl was given a name and a box by someone before Sôchû, who gave the bowl a box in the style of Enshû. The Sôchû inscription could be genuine and the anonymous owner after Sôchû may have interpreted the calligraphy as being that of Enshû. The tea ceremony is celebrated for its ability to give layers of meaning to objects and rituals. Sometimes the layers harmonize with each other and at other times there are contradictions. This bowl is a case in point: the bowl itself has taken on layers after frequent use over two centuries and the staining by tea has now changed the original appearance of the bowl and glaze. Likewise, the layering of provenance provides layers of meaning surrounding the bowl within its box: here, the link of previous owners includes a misinterpretation of one and the lack of identity of another. The complexity of meaning in the tea ceremony itself is here aptly echoed in this fine Hagi bowl that continues to echo the pale colors of early autumn.


17 Takatori chawan Edo period (1615–1868), 18th century

of porcelain.4 The glazes applied on the bowl are

H 2 ¾", D 5 ¼"

also typical to the Takatori tea wares; these glazes

(7.2 cm, 13.5 cm)

were thick and of various colors and consistencies,

With inscribed kiri wood box

mainly produced by mixing different minerals, ashes, and stones. The glazes were then applied to the

This Takatori tea bowl (chawan) was created by the

objects and mixed in a rich tapestry of colors. The

descendants of Korean laborers taken from Korea

yellow-gold glaze forming the central glaze on this

during the Japanese invasions in the 1590’s. The

tea bowl is called the dôkeiyû and is one of the

Korean potter Palsan (later given the Japanese

more famous of the Takatori glaze types. The glaze

name Takatori Hachizô) left Korea with his wife and

application method is also typical for Takatori wares:

family and set up a kiln in the domain of Kuroda

broad bands are applied and allowed to run down


Nagamasa, forming the origin of the Takatori

the sides, producing mutations in colors where

In the process of the next generations, the Takatori

glazes mix and a drop design along its bottom

line of potters was in charge of a number of kilns in

edge. On this bowl, some areas on the outside did

the domain throughout the Edo period. At the time

not get covered with glaze. In the tea world, such

of the production of this tea bowl, the third-genera-

places of imperfection are considered to imbue a

tion Takatori Hachizô was in charge of the Higashi

tea object with its own personality; and, rather than

Sarayama Kiln, where tea utensils were



detractions, they are seen as the embodiment of tea

kiln, which was modeled on Korean climbing kilns,

ceremony aesthetics of rusticity, incompletion, and

is the likely source of this bowl. The Takatori pot-


ters combined Korean technology with Japanese tea aesthetics; the first generation Hachizô even traveled to Kyoto with his son to receive instructions in tea ceramics from the famous tea master Kobori Enshû (1579–1647) and their tea ceramics bear the traces of the tastes of the Kyoto tea masters.3 This tea bowl bears the marks of the type of clay used at Higashi Sarayama, which was highly refined to a density and strength approaching that


18 Shino Serving Bowl Momoyama (1573–1615) to early Edo period

»carved nail« indentation in the center of this area:

(1615 - 1868), first half of 17th century

this indentation forms a single curving wave in the

H 2 ¼" × L 6" × W 6"

middle of the three birds. The viewer is rewarded for

(5.7 cm × 15.3 cm × 15.3 cm)

looking closely and the puzzle is now solved.

Stoneware with underglaze iron. With kiri wood box inscribed Shino Perforated

The second zone of decoration is on the rim. The

Small Bowl

decoration here is formed of quickly-drawn, stylized vines, curling out from two diagonally opposed

This small Shino bowl was made for the kaiseki sec-

corners. Two other sides are marked with series of

tion of the tea ceremony, in which guests were served

parallel lines along the edges of the vessel. The fine

from small dishes filled with various refined dishes.

perforated design of round clusters are placed close to the vines and may well represent clusters of fruit,

This vessel was created through a number of sepa-

such as the grape.3 While the design appears simple

rate steps. It was initially thrown on the wheel and

and spontaneous, it is in fact highly sophisticated.

then sculpted by hand. Three loop feet were then

Such a design could easily be imagined to have

added to the bowl and it bears traces of spur marks

been ordered by a tea master or artist with a keen

on both the top and the bottom of the bowl, indicat-

sense of play and visual design.4

ing that it was fired as a stack of smaller bowls and dishes. The stoneware vessel was then covered with

Similar Shino bowls and dishes were often made in

a thick feldsparic glaze, which fired milky-white over

sets of five and ten and used in the tea ceremony,

a simple iron decoration that had been applied with

during the kaiseki meal.5 This particular type of bowl

a brush.1

would have been appreciated as a kaiseki vessel for a number of reasons. First, as stated above, for its

The design on the upper surface of the bowl is

visually appealing, sophisticated design. Second,

separated into two zones. The inner, round area is

for ease of use: the central area could easily hold a

decorated with a simple motif of three flying plovers

small amount of food without spilling, the three feet

(chidori) on a blank ground. In Japanese visual cul-

giving the vessel stability. In addition, the uneven

ture, plovers are almost always paired with


surface of the vessel, with its heavy glaze, would

and the lack of waves on this design is at first puz-

have provided a pleasantly tactile surface to hold

zling until one notices the fine under-glaze kugibori

during the meal. Finally, the bowl would have created an interesting temporal program: when food was served, the food would have been in the center of the bowl, framed by the outer zone with the design of vines and fruit. Upon eating the food, the central design of the plovers become gradually visible, and, when the food was entirely gone, the indented central wave would suddenly become visible, perhaps accented by the food’s liquid runoff settling in the wave-shaped indentation. The bowl carries yet another association as both the plover / wave design and that of the vines/grapes carry an autumnal association. This Shino bowl would have been an ideal vessel to serve that important guest at the autumn tea setting.6


19 Ko-Seto Vase Muromachi period (1392–1573), 15th century

Seto ware excavated throughout the country, and

H 9 ¾", D 6 ½"

it is entirely possible that the Asihikaga shogunate

(24.5 cm, 16.7 cm)

government in the city of Kamakura was a close

Stoneware with green wood-ash glaze

sponsor of the kiln in its earlier days. As the gov-

With inscribed kiri wood box

ernment also largely controlled the importation of luxury vessels from outside Japan, it made excellent

This early stoneware vase stems from a Seto ware

economic sense for the government to also control

kiln, near the present city of Seto, in present-day

the production of the Japanese imitations.

Aichi Prefecture. The vase, which has been formed on a potter’s wheel, is elegantly shaped in the

This particular vase was made in the imitation of

meibing shape with a gradual outward curvature

Chinese Yingqing ware porcelain vases from the

as one goes up the object. The vase ends in a firm

Jingdezhen area.2 The type of vase was the meibing

shoulder and a generous neck and mouth, the latter

(lit. »lotus blossom«) type that were imported to

with a large midriff. The vase has been decorated

Japan at this time.3 As the Japanese potters could

with three sets of lines (again, while on the wheel)

not produce porcelains at the time, the next best

on the mid-body, on the edge of the shoulder and

solution was to produce stoneware with a thick

halfway between the second line and the mouth.

wood-ash glaze to give the impression of a celadon

There is no stamped decoration; rather, through a

porcelain vase. These vases have in the past been

generous application of ash-glaze, small rivulets of

discarded by some commentators as mere imita-

olive-green glaze (caused by the reductive kiln) run

tions.4 Recently, however, persuasive arguments

down the sides of the vase.1 This particular piece is

have been made for the aesthetic values of these

in excellent condition with only a small chip on the

remarkable objects. It is important to remember

mouth that has been repaired with gold lacquer.

that the act of copying in East Asia is significantly different than that in the West, and it is likely that

The Seto kiln is traditionally seen as one of the Six

the imitations were seen as acts of homage to the

Old Kilns, taken to be the six medieval kilns active

luxurious imports from exotic places.5

in Japan at the time. Later research has shown that there were a much larger number of kilns active at

This type of vase was used for storing liquids for

this time, including Suzu ware, which also appears

both religious and non-religious occasions. The

in this catalog. According to tradition, the Seto kiln

pronounced midriff on the neck allowed ropes and

was founded by one man, a Katô Kagemasa, who

stiff paper to be tied to the top for a close seal

traveled to China in 1223 and learned the Chinese

over the plug. An earlier type of Ko-Seto vases with

way of producing ceramics. Upon returning to Japan

similar forms were produced in the Kamakura period

and the Seto area, he set up production here. No

(1185–1392). This earlier type, however, had various

matter whether a historical Katô Kagemasa existed or

stamped patterns, whereas the type seen in this

not, it certainly seems true that Chinese and Korean

entry was without the stamped designs and is seen

ceramics played a large role in the early history of the

to stem from the Muromachi period (1392–1573).6

kiln, as many of the first products were imitations of foreign luxury objects. Tenmoku bowls from China

A foremost ceramic expert, Katsura Matasaburô

were imitated as were Celadon vases from Korea and

(1901–1986) has certified this particular piece to


have come from the Seto kiln and to date to the mid-Muromachi period.7 His certificate, including

The Seto kiln also seems to have been one of the

the size of the vase, and his signature and seals, is

most favored kilns at the time, judging from the

placed on the underside of the kiri box lid.8


20 Suzu Jar with Paddled Design Kamakura period (1185–1392), 13th century

to a high point of technical sophistication. As usual

H 13 ¼", D 11 ½"

with works of this type, the outline of the jar, an

(33.5 cm, 29 cm)

egg standing on its thin end, displays traces of the

Stoneware with natural ash glaze

clay coils from which the upper part of the body was formed on top of a sculpted base. The outward-

The Suzu 珠洲 kilns were located on the northern tip

opening short mouth of the jar is segmented into

of the Noto 能登 peninsula in present-day Ishikawa

two parallel parts and successfully counter-balances

Prefecture, on the coast of the Japan Sea. The kilns

the widening shape of the jar beneath it. This

are thought to be a development of the medieval

jar does not display the heavy ash glaze of other

Sueki ware culture, a type of ceramics closely related

contemporary kilns, such as Tamba or Shigaraki,

to Korean prototypes that once spread across Japan.1

but rather a thin glaze with traces of white spotting

Some scholars have posited that the production of

from ash that fell on the parts of the body that were

the Suzu ware with its characteristic sandy clay, dark

exposed during the reductive firing.

gray coloring, and egg-shaped vessels, was initiated by Korean potters that had arrived in the twelfth

A distinctive kiln mark can be seen on the shoulder

century from the Korean peninsula, not very far from

of this work in the form of three arcs that form a

the Noto


Whatever the origins of the kilns, the

circle.4 Marks such as this, possibly made from the

kilns enjoyed sponsorship by religious institutions

carved end of a bamboo stick, are sometimes found

and aristocratic families, partly through the large

on Suzu vessels of this period. Specialists have

Wakayama manor on the same peninsular. Through

speculated on the exact meaning of these marks;

these connections Suzu vessels spread widely: ves-

theories often center on possible religious functions

sels have been excavated from numerous places

of the vessels.5 It is certainly possible that this

along the western coast of Japan, reaching as far

particular vessel with its sophisticated and carefully-

as southern Hokkaido. The first pieces of Suzu ware

done design may also have been created as a com-

that clearly differenciated from Sueki ware can be

mission for a special religious ceremony.

placed in the twelfth century during the late Heian period (794–1185) and the last pieces in the fifteenth

The Suzu kilns have gained considerable attention

century during the Muromachi period (1392–1573).

since the discovery of the kiln site in the 1950’s and

After this period, the kilns were abandoned, perhaps

Suzu objects are now eagerly collected by museums

due to intense competition from the nearby Echizen

and collectors. Although the kilns were discontinued

and Tokoname kilns.

during the Muromachi period, the area has since fund new ceramic life as numerous potters have now

This outstanding jar dates from the thirteenth century,

set up businesses in the Noto peninsula, in attempts

which, judging from the relatively large number of

to renew the lost traditions of the Suzu kilns.6

pieces produced at this time, was a period of high activity for the Suzu kilns.3 The pieces from this period often display a highly developed paddling technique (tataki 叩き) – where wooden paddles with incised lines are beaten on the still-soft clay, resulting in a distinct appearance, often likened to plowing marks or pinecones. On well-designed pots, the resulting texture alternates seamlessly between areas of horizontal lines and diagonal lines, and this particular pot is notable for carrying this technique


21 Shigaraki Jar Muromachi period (1392–1573), 15th century

of this vessel possibly also occurred through the

H 18 ½", D 15 ¼"

spontaneous accidents of the firing process.

(47 cm, 39 cm) Stoneware with natural ash glaze

The surface of the jar, with its warm, glowing mosaic of earth tones and textures presents the viewer with

This stoneware jar stems from the Shigaraki region,

an exciting spectacle of spontaneous events. As

a mountainous area in the modern-day Shiga Prefec-

the clay used in this unpretentious country kiln was

ture, to the southeast of Kyoto. The jar embodies a

largely unfiltered, many pieces of rocks and minerals

sense of austere beauty and a tour-de-force display

became exposed during the construction and the

of surface detail, including firing spots, stone inclu-

firing. Larger pebbles appear in the surface, some-

sions, cracks and melted minerals throughout the

times (in the case of feldspar and quartz) fusing and

vessel. The construction of this bulbous, generously

partly melting away. Other times, producing minor

bulging jar echoes that of other jars from this period:

explosions during the firing, leaving a burst pattern

from its silhouette, it becomes clear that the jar

in the clay. Yet in other places are holes, where

was created in four rounds of clay-coil construction,

pebbles were forced out of the hardening clay during

where the clay was allowed to partially dry between

the firing process.1

applications. The neck and mouth was added at the end, on the strongly articulated shoulder. As the jar

The Shigaraki kiln was thought to be one of the

was not turned on a potter’s wheel, its asymmetry

Six Ancient Kilns that were thought active during

displays a complex sense of movement, partly bal-

medieval Japan.2 We know now from excavations

anced by the firm base, made larger than the mouth.

that dozens of other kilns were also active during this time, including the Suzu kiln, and that the medieval

Reading the surface of the jar provides us with a

ceramic world was quite complex and differentiated.

close, blow-by-blow history of its firing process. The

Shigaraki kilns, however, were one of the kiln sites

dramatic color patterns on the jar shows us where

to gain fame from an early date, partly due to its

the jar was placed within the kiln: where it was partly

proximity to the capital city of Kyoto, and partly due

exposed directly to the fire (the dark koge spots),

to the many tea masters, from the sixteenth century

where partly exposed to fire without being touched

onwards, who actively promoted the ceramics from

by it (the lighter browns), and where it was placed

this area. Prior to the discovery of the kiln by the

right next to other ceramic vessels (the light oranges).

tea aficionados, however, the Shigaraki kilns made

In this last group of light spots, it is possible to locate

unpretentious objects for local farmers, merchants,

sections where a ceramic object next to the jar

and religious institutions.3 Their jars were used pri-

actually touched it during firing and became fused

marily for storage, for storing food and seeds for the

together – the resulting chip occurred when the two

next season, and for Buddhist rites, for example, for

vessels were separated after the firing. In addition,

burials and the storing of ritual objects.

the large amounts of ash from the burning pine wood settled on the vessel during firing and created a pattern of gray glazes. Here, too, it is possible to map out the location of the jar within the kiln: from the amount of glaze, we can see which side of the jar faced the fire at the front of the kiln and we can tell from areas untouched by glaze, where objects shielded the jar from the ash-carrying wind that blew at high speeds through the kiln. The broken mouth



22 Stacked Writing Box with Quails Kôda Shûetsu (1882–1933) Taishô period (1912–1926), 1920’s

removed for the identity of the artist to be known.

H 7" × L 13" × W 9"

Kôda Shûetsu 迎田秋悦 (1882–1933) was a major

(18 cm × 32.7 cm × 22.5 cm)

twentieth-century Kyoto lacquer artist. He was born

Signed: Shûetsu saku (»Made by Shûetsu«)

into a family of lacquer artists, his father being

With fitted kiri wood box, inscribed by the artist.

the fifth-generation lacquer artist Yamamoto Rihei (1839–1908), and he became one of the leading

This finely executed stacked writing box (suzuribako)

lacquer artists of his generation. He actively took

is composed of a lower box for paper and an upper

part in national and regional exhibitions and in form-

box for recessed ink stone and water dropper. On

ing artist organizations to further the work of fellow

the outside is the finely delineated design of seven

lacquer artists. He was one of the artists to take part

quails, two on the upper lid and five around the four

in the influential Kôshuen (Fragrant Lacquer Garden)

sides. The quails, a symbol of autumn, are crafted in

under the direction of Asai Chû (1856–1907) in 1906.

gold takamakie with a high degree of naturalism and

In 1927 he formed Kôgei Shunsôsha (Spring Grasses

are shown peacefully flocking in nature, forraging for

Society of the Arts) together with Ida Kôshû and in

food on the roiro mirror-black lacquer ground of the

1930, he took was the leading force behind the for-

box exterior.

mation of the Kinki Shukôka Kyôkai (The Kinki-Area Lacquer Artist Association), which dissolved follow-

The box interior is formed by a textile pattern in the

ing his untimely death three years later.

togidashi technique on a nashiji ground; the design playfully alludes to the fine brocade silk interiors of

Shûetsu took part in numerous major exhibitions,

many writing boxes. The artist, Kôda Shûetsu, was

starting with the exhibition in 1915 to mark the

the author of an important book on lacquer design,

seventh anniversary of his father’s death. In 1920,

and that expertise seems to have come to good use

he, together with Akazuka Jitoku (1871–1936), took

in deciding the particular textile pattern that would

part in the first Tokyo exhibition, which was one of

fit with the overall design of the


The forms of

the more important exhibitions of the Taishô period

the box are placed in a dynamic balance between

(1912–1926). And in 1932 he was selected by the

the angular forms of the water pourer, the ink stone,

government to take part in a large government-

and the outer box, and the softly rounded shapes of

sponsored exhibition for export of the arts.

the abstract flower designs and the quails.

Shûetsu’s works are in many major institutions, including the Tokyo National Museum.

The artist has hidden his signature inside the writing box, beneath the ink stone, which must be


23 Box with Pines and Sakura Blossoms Taishô period (1912–1926)

traditionally seen as symbolic plants of the autumn.

H 5" × L 15" × W 13"

To finish the box design, the artist has had the

(12.9 cm × 38.2 cm × 32.8 cm)

lacquered edges of the top and bottom halves en-

With fitted black lacquer kiri wood box

cased in heavy silver rims. No expense is spared in producing the most luxurious effects. The only place

The anonymous designer of this spectacular lacquer

left devoid of design is the inside bottom, which was

box for paper documents (ryoshibako) designed

purposely left bare, as this is where the documents

the box with a finely detailed décor of pines and

were meant to be stored.

blossoming cherry trees across its outer surfaces. Moreover, he has divided the top cover into two

The seasons of the plants were calculated to rep-

opposing sections, the lower right being occupied

resent a contrast of the inside and outside: as the

by pine trees among flowering plants and the upper

winter and spring seasons are represented on the

left showing a misty landscape with flowering cherry

outside, so the autumn season will contrast on the

trees, pine trees, and smaller flowering plants. The

inside. The beginning of the year is represented by

plants are detailed with the most luxurious gold

the buoyant spring scene on the front, while the

lacquer effects, including details in makie, takamakie

autumn intimates the coming end of the year. And

and kirigane techniques on kinpun and nashiji

rather than inviting the viewer to look at individual


details, the artist has elected to go for massive effects: the rich sweeps of plants, both outside and

The cover opens to reveal generous profusions of

inside the box, stand in order to impress the over-

autumnal grasses and flowers in takamakie and

whelming richness of design and sheer profusion of

kirigane on nashiji and kinpun clouds. Myriad types

gold details and techniques.

of fall flowers are represented, including the hagi, kuzu, sekichiku, Suzuki, kikyô, and otokoeshi, all


24 Box with Plum Blossoms Taishô period (1912–1926)

has a relatively simple design of bamboo leaves by a

H 5" × L 15 ½" × W 12 ¼"

flowing stream, which could also be interpreted as a

(12.3 cm × 39.7 cm × 31 cm)

winter design.

With inscribed fitted kiri wood box The moment of triumph for the plum is often deInscription on lacquer box:

picted in the form of the uguisu or bush warbler,

Uguisu no haru »Spring of the bush warbler«

perched on the branches of the flowering plum. In this case, the bird appears to be absent, but, in fact,

This large black lacquer box for paper documents

the two symbols, the plum and uguisu, are united

(ryoshibako) displays a thick takamakie décor of a

in the form of the mother-of-pearl character for the

flowering plum branch surrounded by straw and

word uguisu, which is located next to the lower right

inlaid mother-of-pearl characters in the lower right

of the branch. Here, then, a word takes the part of

upper left corners. The flowering plum tree is a

an image, and the symbolic pair is united in two

symbol of perseverance of the tree in winter’s cold,

different media.

and of the dying winter and of the spring which is fast approaching. The dramatic moment of triumph

The box comes with the original kiri wood box,

against the cold is further emphasized by the stark,

which, according to an attached label, belonged

mirror-black roiro background surrounding the

originally to the Taishô Emperor before it was given

flowers and by the straw, which has been wrapped

as a present, to mark the anniversary of his death

around the plum tree trunk in order to keep it from

in the spring of 1927, the second year of the new

dying in the frost. The inside of the document box

Shôwa reign. If this is indeed the case, then the design of the cover plays perfectly along with the occasion: the inscription, »the spring of the bush warbler,« refers to a new start, the regeneration of a something old and venerable, and, here, the plum could be seen as the ancient Japanese imperial line and the new spring, heralded by the uguisu, is the ascent to the throne of the new Shôwa emperor.


25 Kôetsu Lacquer Box with Poem Ishikawa Rôseki 石川蝋石, 3rd generation (1950–) Heisei period (1989–present), 1996

Yet Rôseki did not see the original box by Kôetsu

H 3 ¼" × L 8 ¾" × W 8 ¾"

but rather a copy that Ogata Kôrin (1658–1716) had

(8.2 cm × 22 cm × 22 cm)

made of the original. This copy is now in the Seikadô Foundation and comes with an inscription by Kôrin

With fitted wood box inscribed on top: Kazaribako:

saying that he saw the original box in Kôetsu’s home

Kôetsu utsushi suminoe makie

in Takagamine.2 Moreover, the copy that Kôrin made


was clearly not an exact copy as we see distinct

»Ornamental Box: Copy of Kôrin’s Lacquer Suminoe.«

elements of Kôrin’s pictorial style in the depiction

Inscription on side of fitted box: Heian Shishô

of the waves. Furthermore, Rôseki, when making his

Rôseki zô 「平安・漆匠蝋石造」 »Made by Kyoto

copy of the Kôrin copy, also made transformations,

Lacquer Master Rôseki«

changing, for one thing, a writing box with utensils to a display box. So we have a copy of a copy of an

Inscription on lacquer box:

original, where both copies changed elements of the original.

Does my bellowed / avoid the eyes of others / Even on dream paths / visited by night as [waves] / Visit Suminoe

[shore]? 1

Copying lacquer works of prior masters was a timehonored tradition in Japan, and there are many records of such events, partly caused by the high

Suminoe no / [kishi] ni yoru [nami] /

incidence of fire and the likelihood of masterpieces

yoru sae ya / yume no kayoiji /

going entirely lost if not replicated. Documented

hitome yoguramu

examples of such events include the famous set of notes written by Kôami Nagasuki (1661–1723), when

This display box has a complex decoration and his-

he was asked by the Shogunate to make a faithful

tory. As for the decoration, a raging sea with wild

copy of »a box with a plum branch design,« originally

waves in hiramakie technique is pounding over a

made by Kôami Michikiyo (1432–1500).3 Likewise,

shoreline carefully formed by fitted lead plates using

industrialists such as Iwasaki Koyota, (the fourth

the ikakeji and kakewari techniques. The characters

president of the Mitsubishi and one of the founders

of the poem are in silver takamakie. The poem winds

of the Seikadô Foundation) were known for commis-

its way around the box, starting on the top and go-

sioning copies of key works in their collections from

ing down, right to left. The third line is placed in the

artists and artisans.4

lower left corner, and the last two lines run around the sides of the box. There are two omissions, how-

The third generation Ishikawa Rôseki (1950– ), a

ever, as the words for kishi »rocky shore« and nami

lacquer artist active in Kyoto today, is known for his

»waves« are not included in words, but are instead

creative recreations of major lacquer works from

placed next to places with actual depictions of the

the Momoyama and early Edo periods.5 According

objects, the images taking the place of the words.

to the artist, he sees the act of recreating a famous

Thus the artist creates a witty and sophisticated

work as an act of homage to the master who origi-

design where the cover speaks through lacquer,

nally made the work.6 Beside the obvious aesthetic

poetry, words, and images, all in one.

appeal and high level of technical craftsmanship of his version of Kôetsu and Kôrin, the present work is

The history of this box is also complex. A lacquer

important for illustrating the process of transferring

box by Kôetsu (1558–1637), now lost, was the origi-

(and altering) designs of older masterpieces, and

nal of this design, hence the title of this lacquer box.

the act of creating, in the process, new visions in art.7


signatures and seals Reproduced actual size

Nr. 5 right

Nr. 7

Nr. 5 left

Nr. 11 Nr. 10 Nr. 12

Nr. 8

Nr. 9

Nr. 14


Nr. 15

Nr. 22

Nr. 13

box inscriptions Reproduced half size

Nr. 13

Nr. 10

Nr. 14

Nr. 11

Nr. 12 Nr. 24

Nr. 16

Nr. 15

Nr. 8

Nr. 25

Nr. 19


notes Nr. 1 Flowers of the Four Seasons

2 See also Ishida Yoshiya and Yamamoto Yukari, eds. Delightful Pursuits: Highlights from the Lee

1 See Kôno Motoaki. Ogata Kôrin. Nihon bijutsu

Institute for Japanese Art at the Clark Center.

kaiga zenshû, vol. 17. (Tokyo: Shûeisha, 1976), ill. 17;

(Tokyo: Nihon Keizai Shimbun, 2002), 96–7.

Minamoto Toyomune and Hashimoto Ayako, eds. Tawaraya Sôtatsu. Nihon bijutsu kaiga zenshû, vol. 14.

3 See reference in Gôke, vol. 1, 211 and Yoshiya and

(Tokyo: Shûeisha, 1976), cat nr. 46; Takeda, Tsuneo,

Yamamoto, 97.

et al. Nihon byôbue shûsei. (Tokyo: Kôdansha, 1977–81), VII, 51 and 95 / 6; and Yamane Yûzô and Kobayashi Tadashi, eds. Nihon no bi: Rimpa ten

Nr. 6 Flower Viewing in the Pleasure Quarters

zuroku. (Tokyo: NHK Promotion, 1996), cat. nr. 17. 1 See Asano Shûgô’s article in Kobayashi Tadashi, ed. Manno Bijutsukan, Ukiyoe nikuhitsu taikan, vol. 7. Nr. 3 Fan Screen with Scenes from the Tales of Ise

(Tokyo: Kodansha, 1996), cat. nr. 32. This type of early fire-extinguisher was common to the Yoshiwara

1 Minamoto Toyomune and Hashimoto Ayako,

district. However, the identity should not be identi-

eds. Tawaraya Sôtatsu. Nihon bijutsu kaiga zenshû,

fied too firmly as the Yoshiwara, since the artist may

vol. 14. (Tokyo: Shûeisha, 1976), cat nrs. 8–12 and 23.

also be describing an expansive restaurant with garden, establishments that were gaining popular-

2 A diary entry from 1434 by Fushimi no Miya Sada-

ity at this time, or he may be describing a generic

fusa, in his Kanmon gyoki mentions such a screen,

pleasure quarter, of which there were many, not only

with 54 fans pasted on a screen with a depiction of

in Edo and the eastern regions, but also in western

flowing water. See also Minamoto and Hashimoto,

Japan, from where the artist originally came.

cat. nr. 48, for an example by Sôtatsu. 2 Also called Takeda Harunobu 竹田春信 and 3 Yamane Yûzô and Kobayashi Tadashi, eds. Nihon

Koga bikô 『古画備考』has Hasegawa Mitsunobu

no bi: Rimpa ten zuroku. (Tokyo: NHK Promotion,

長谷川光信. Another well used artist name was

1996), cat. nr. 16. Other examples are fan screens

Shôsuiken 松翠軒. Eishun had a very long career, an-

where all fans had depictions of or allusions to

chored by an early handscroll dated 1704 (illustrated

famous sites.

in Kokka 876) and works dated up to 1763. See also Shimada Shûjirô, ed. Zaigai hihô. 6 vols. (Tokyo: Gakushû Kenkyûsha, 1969), 2, 39, for a discussion of

Nr. 4 Cranes of Summer and Autumn

this artist.

1「土佐将監光起筆」(Tosa shôgen Mitsuoki hitsu)

3 See Shimada, 1, ill. 34; and also a handscroll illustrated in Kokka 876.

Nr. 5 Four Elegant Pastimes Nr. 7 Hakuin Ekaku: Daruma 1 For images of the »Hikone Screen,« see, Hikonejô Hakubutsukan, ed. Ii-ke denrai no meihô: kinsei

1 The full title of the sutra is『大乗理趣六波羅蜜多経』

daimyô no bi to kokoro. (Hikone: Hikone-shi Kyôiku

and the above phrase appears as the eight rule in a

Iinkai, 1993), 82–5.

set of ten admonitions for Buddhist followers: 「八者常為心師不師於心」T. 8.898b. This influential


phrase reoccurs in numerous other Japanese Bud-

2 See images, for example, in Nihon Ishi Gakkai, ed.

dhist writings, for example, in Nichiren’s »Reply to

Zuroku Nihon iji shiryô shûsei (Tokyo: Mitsui Shobô,

the Lay Monk Soya« 『曽谷入道殿御返事』.

1981), vol. 5, 11–15.

2 For a study on the legendary nature and historicity

3 Takeuchi Naoji. Hakuin. (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobô,

of Bodhidharma, see Yanagida Seizan. Daruma.

1964), Addendum, 18.

(Tokyo: Kôdansha, 1981). 4 For example, the early 18th century encyclopedic 3 The ink was allowed to pool and naturally formed

publication, Terashima Ryôan. Wakan sansai zue.

concentric circles around small pieces of unground

(Tokyo: Tokyo Bijutsu, 1970), vol. 1, 202, describe him

ink. The pooling effect can also be seen within the

in a text, as having a head of an ox.

characters of the inscription. 5 For Hakuin’s visions of the Hakutaku, see 4 See, for example, Takeuchi Naoji. Hakuin.

Takeuchi, 80–81. See also current Hakutaku research

(Tokyo: Chikuma Shobô, 1964), 332–334, and 337,

by Donald Harper.

and Morita Shiryû. Bokubi Tokushû: Hakuin Bokuseki. (Kyoto: Bokubisha, 1980), 150.

6 The creative changes within Hakuin’s Hamaguri Kannon paintings is the subject of an upcoming

5 See, for example, Jan Fontain and Money Hick-

article by the author.

man. Zen: Painting & Calligraphy. (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1970), 102–3.

7 Besides this image, at least three Hakuin depictions of Shennong are known to be extant: two are

6 See, Takeuchi, addendum, 9; Fontain and Hickman,

depicted in Takeuchi, 78 and 79 and a third exists in

103; Katô Shôshun and Fukushima Shun’ô. Zenga no

the Shin-wa’an Collection, Japan.

sekai. (Kyoto: Tankôsha, 1978), 36, 81, 99, 159, and 185; and Zen Bunka Kenkyûjo. Bodhidharma Exhibition. (Tokyo: Isetan, 1988), cat. nr. 26, 31–33, and 44.

Nr. 16 Hagi Tea Bowl, Named Usumomiji »Pale Fall Colors«

7 Takeuchi, 46. 1 For a discussion of wabi aesthetics, see Haga, 8 See Takeuchi, Addendum, 9 and also ibid, cat

Kôshirô, »The Wabi Aesthetic throughout the Ages«

nr. 334 for a Menpeki Daruma in the gu character

in Tea in Japan: Essays on the History of Chanoyu.

that had been in Gudô’s private collection.

Kumakura Isao and Paul Varley, eds. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1994, 195–230.

Nr. 8 Hakuin Ekaku: God of Agriculture

2 For example, a poem by Nozawa Bonchô (1640?–

1 Shennong was described the fist time in a 4th

vol. 3): »Hada samushi takekiri yama no usumomiji«

century BCE text, 『滕文公章句』.He was further

(my skin grows cold / the pale autumn colors / of the

elaborated by the Tang historian Sima Qian 司馬貞

bamboo cutters’ mountains.« In this case, the words

(145–90 BCE) in his 『史記補・三皇本紀』, where he

refer to the season: as bamboo are typically cut

is first described as having detailed knowledge of

down in the eighth month, when the fall colors are

medicine and the hundred medicinal herbs.

not yet fully developed, hence »pale.« The sense of

1714) in Bashô’s anthology Saruminoshû (1691,

paleness also implies a sense of distance, to the far-


away bamboos and the workers who cut them.

2 In contrast to the Nishi Sarayama, which made utilitarian objects. For details, see Takeshi Nagatake.

3 For a useful discussion of this phenomenon, see

Agano, Takatori. (Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1975), 85–95

Yagi Ichio. »Uta-mei: The Poetic Names of Tea Uten-

and 136–140; and Andrew Maske. »A Brief History

sils.« Chanoyu Quarterly 83 (1996), 16–40.

of Takatori Ware.« Originally published on Morgan Pitelka’s Japanese Ceramics website. See also his

4 See, for example, the secret records of Enshû,

upcoming book: Takatori Ware: Potters and Patrons

preserved at the Secret Transmissions of Hokô

in Edo Japan. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University

甫公伝書, one of the »four tea transmissions«

Council on East Asian Studies Publications, 2006).

Chadô shiso densho 茶道四祖伝書. Published in the Chadô koten sôsho 茶道古典叢書 series, edited

3 Nagatake, 116–7, 138.

by Matsuya Hisashige, Matsuyama Yonetarô, and Kumakura Isao (Kyoto: Shibunkaku, 1974).

4 Maske, »A Brief History.«

5 For the various traditions associated with the

5 For a discussion of tea aesthetics, see Haga,

inscriptions on boxes and documents, see two

Kôshirô, »The Wabi Aesthetic throughout the Ages«

articles by Louise Allison Cort. »Looking at White

in Tea in Japan: Essays on the History of Chanoyu.

Dew.« Chanoyu Quarterly 43 (1985), 36–48, and

Kumakura, Isao and Paul Varley, eds. Honolulu:

»The Kizaemon Teabowl Reconsidered: The Making

University of Hawai’i Press, 1994, 195–230

of a Masterpiece.« Chanoyu Quarterly 71 (1992), 7–30. Nr. 18 Shino Serving Bowl 6 For examples of the two, see Oda Eiichi. Chadô no hako to hakogakii (Kyoto: Tankôsha, 2003), 94–5.

1 Shino ware is thought to have been the first ceramic type in Japan to have decoration applied by brush.

Nr. 17 Takatori Tea Bowl

2 Influence of Kakinomoto Hitomaro and his poem in the Manyôshû: »O plovers, flying over the evening

1 Many Japanese warlords took Korean potters and

waves, / On the lake of Ômi, / When you cry, my heart

other laborers with them back to Japan. For ex-

grows heavy, / With memories of by-gone days.«

ample, the daimyô of Hirado, Satsuma, Nabeshima


took with them 125, 80, and »a large number« of

ほゆ」Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkôkai. The Manyôshû.

Korean laborers, there amongst potters. For details

(New York and London: Columbia University Press,

on the Korean Takatori potters, see Andrew Maske.

1965), 50.

»The Continental Origins of Takatori Ware: The Introduction of Korean Potters and Technology to

3 The grape was a non-native plant, but was well-

Japan through the Invasions of 1592–1598.« Trans-

known through its appearance in Chinese paintings

actions of the Asiatic Society of Japan 4th ser., 9

and through references in classical Chinese litera-

(1994), 43–61. Andrew Maske posits that, since Palsan

ture. Another possibility is the yamabudô, a native

left Korea with his family and received a generous

Japanese vinous plant with small fruits, somewhat

stipend, he must have left voluntarily. However, this

similar to the grape.

does not necessarily follow. 4 Japanese scholars have claimed that the Shino designs derive entirely from native sources. See, for


example, Tadanari Mitsuoka. »Momoyama jidai no

3 See example excavated at Ehime Castle in Tsugio

tôgei.« Sekai tôki kôza. Nihon section. (Tokyo:

Mikami. The Art of Japanese Ceramics. (New York

Yûzankaku, 1972), 2, 2, 182. Japanese sources do

and Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1972), 42.

seem to predominate, and this bowl is such an example. However, other sources, such as the imported

4 Soame Jenyns writes: »…Seto kilns’ attempts to

Chinese Tianqi porcelain plates may also have influ-

copy these [Chinese] celadon wares were a failure. It

ences Shino designs through their simply drawn, but

was impossible to imitate these successfully with the

sophisticated designs, especially as they were also

clay that was available. They only achieved a brownish

used in the kaiseki section of the tea ceremony.

olive-green glaze, which, owing to the over-lavish application of wood ash, coagulated and ran down

5 Similar bowls and dishes can be seen in many

the surface of the vessels in rivulets, giving them a

museums, for example, Barbara Brennan Ford and

curiously mottled and wrinkled appearance.«

Oliver Impey. Japanese Art from the Getty Collec-

Japanese Pottery. (London: Faber and Faber, 1978), 81.

tion in The Metropolitan Museum. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1989), 53; Lorna Price,

5 See, for the aesthetics of imitation Koga Kenzô,

ed. A Thousand Cranes: Treasures of Japanese Art.

»Utsushi: The Aesthetics of Imitation.« Chanoyu

(Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 1987), 204–5; Edmund

Quarterly 67 (1991), 7–34.

Capon, et al. Japan: Masterpieces from the Idemitsu Collection. (Sydney: International Cultural Corporation

6 Numerous examples of both types can be found

of Australia, 1982), 136–7; and Yoshiko Kakudo. The

in museum collections. For the Kamakura types, see:

Art of Japan: Masterworks in the Asian Art Museum

Barbara Brennan Ford and Oliver Impey. Japanese

of San Francisco. (San Francisco: Asian Art Museum

Art from the Getty Collection in The Metropolitan

and Chronicle Books, 1991), 166–9.

Museum. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1989), 44; Okuda Naoshige. Ko-Seto. Nihon tôji

6 For an English-language summary of the kaiseki

taikan, vol. 6. (Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1989), ills. 14–27;

meal, see Hiroichi Tsutsui. »The History of the Kaiseki

Hakone Museum of Art. Hakone Bijutsukan: kanshô

Meal.« Chanoyu Quarterly 78 (1994), 7–46.

tebiki. (Atami: MOA Museum of Art, 1982), ill. 22; and Lorna Price, ed. A Thousand Cranes: Treasures of Japanese Art. (Seattle: Seattle Art Museum,

Nr. 19 Ko-Seto Vase

1987), 200. Examples of the Muromachi type can be seen in: Edmund Capon, et al. Japan: Masterpieces

1 In an oxidizing kiln, the glaze would turn dark

from the Idemitsu Collection. (Sydney: International

olive brown. See color examples of both types in:

Cultural Corporation of Australia, 1982), 130–1;

Joe Earle, ed. The Toshiba Gallery: Japanese Art

and Louise Allison Cort. Japanese Collections in

and Design. (London: Victoria and Albert Museum,

the Freer Gallery of Art: Seto and Mino Ceramics.

1986), ills. 11 and 12.

(Washington DC: Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, 1992), 62–4.

2 A number of other similarly-shaped vases were made from other models, such as vases from China

7 Katsura wrote over thirty books on older Japa-

and Korea. Points of differentiation were the size

nese ceramics and was seen as the world’s greatest

and form of the mouth and the slope of the shoulder.

authority on old Bizen ware.

See the various styles in Okuda Naoshige. Ko-Seto. Nihon tôji taikan, vol.  6. (Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1989), ills. 14–27


8 The older inscription on the lid misdates the vase

Nr. 21 Shigaraki Jar

to the Kamakura period. It also states that the vase stems from an excavation.

1 Two jars with almost exactly the same forms, firing patterns, and proportions can be seen in Mitsuoka Tadanari. Shigaraki Iga. Nihon tôji taikei, vol. 8.

Nr. 20 Suzu Jar with Paddled Design

(Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1989), ill. 6, and Louise Allison Cort. Shigaraki, Potters’ Valley. (Tokyo, New York,

1 For a thorough discussion of this question, refer to

and San Francisco: Kodansha International, 1979), ill. 2.

Yoshioka Yasunobu. Chûsei sueki no kenkyû. (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 1994).

2 The Shigaraki area saw the production of sueki ware from the fifth to the twelfth centuries. The

2 Sawada posits that the Korean potters brought the

exact nature of contact between the sueki ware

tataki technique with them to the Noto peninsular.

produced in the area and the succeeding Shigaraki-

Sazawa Yoshiharu, Tokoname, Atsumi, Echizen, Suzu.

type ceramics has not been established. Although a

Nihon tôji taikei. Vol. 7. (Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1989),

large number of ancient kilns have been excavated

p. 125.

in the Shigaraki, none of the kilns of the Shigarakitype predate the Muromachi period. See Masahiko

3 Other examples of this period can be seen in

Kawahara. Shigaraki. Nihon tôji zenshû, vol. 12.

Sazawa, ill. 84–85; Gotô Art Museum, Hokuriku no

(Tokyo: Chûô Kôransha, 1977), 50.

kotô: Echizen, Suzu. (Tokyo: Nihon Kokusai Bijutsu Sentâ, 1985), ills 78–81. Hakone Museum of Art.

3 For examples of Shigaraki Jars from the same

Hakone Bijutsukan: kanshô tebiki. (Atami: MOA

period in museum collections, see: Barbara Brennan

Museum of Art, 1982), ill. 25. See also the collection

Ford and Oliver Impey. Japanese Art from the Getty

of the Suzuyaki Shiryôkan, Ishikawa Prefecture.

Collection in The Metropolitan Museum. (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1989), 46–47;

4 A similar kiln mark formed of three circles can be

Hakone Museum of Art. Hakone Bijutsukan: kanshô

seen in Gotô, ill. 79, and in Yoshioka, 408 (113–5)

tebiki. (Atami: MOA Museum of Art, 1982), ills. 31–35;

and 410 (172).

Lorna Price, ed. A Thousand Cranes: Treasures of Japanese Art. (Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 1987),

5 Sawada suggests that the marks were intended as

200–201; Edmund Capon, et al. Japan: Masterpieces

marks or devotion or as specific prayers. Some jars

from the Idemitsu Collection. (Sydney: International

were indeed also used as containers for sutra burials.

Cultural Corporation of Australia, 1982), 126–7; and

Sawada, 125–6.

Joe Earle, ed. The Toshiba Gallery: Japanese Art

6 A museum now stands in the area: the Suzuyaki

1986), 36–37.

and Design. (London: Victoria and Albert Museum, Shiryôkan offers visitors and locals publications and tours of the local history, ceramic traditions, and excavated objects—while showing the works of con-

Nr. 22 Stacked Writing Box with Quails

temporary artists. A clear attempt is made to unite the old and new traditions of Suzu ware.

1 Together with younger brother Gôda Katei (1886–1961), wrote the Kyô makie monyôshû 『京蒔絵文様集』 (Kyoto Lacquer Design Collection), published posthumously by the Kyoto publisher Tankôsha in 1980.


Nr. 25 Kôetsu Lacquer Box with Poem 1 Poem 559 in the Kokin wakashû. Above translation by Helen Craig McCullough in Kokin Wakashû: The First Imperial Anthology. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1985), 127. 2 See, for example, Seikadô Foundation. Seikadô Art Treasures. 2 vols. (Tokyo: Seikadô Foundation, 1992), I, ill. 170 and II, 88–89. 3 These notes were themselves copied by Shibata Zeshin and we now have the copies of the notes, but not the originals, which are presumed to have been lost to fire. See Bijutsu Kenkyû 99 (1940), 495–509 and Andrew Pekarik. Japanese Lacquer, 1600–1900. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1980), 121–3. 4 See, for example, Christine Guth. Art, Tea, and Industry. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993). 5 Ishikawa Kometarô, the first generation Rôseki established his workshop in central Kyoto during 1885 and was active until 1944. Ishikawa Yasuji, the second generation relocated the shop to its present location in Fushimi, where the third generation Ishikawa Kôji became head of the workshop in 1992. 6 Personal communication with the artist. 7 For the aesthetics of recreating famous works, see Koga Kenzô, »Utsushi: The Aesthetics of Imitation.« Chanoyu Quarterly 67 (1991), 7–34.


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Erik Thomsen Asian Art Ernst-Ludwig-Straße 30 D-64625 Bensheim Germany Tel. +49 – 62 51– 6 67 65 Fax +49 – 62 51– 61 04 99 [email protected] www.erikthomsen.com

erik thomsen japanese paintings and works of art © 2006 Erik Thomsen Text Nr.1–9 and Nr.16–25: Hans Bjarne Thomsen Photography: Klaus Wäldele Design: Valentin Beinroth Production: Henrich Druck + Medien GmbH, Frankfurt am Main Printed in Germany


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