BYÔBU

The Art of Japanese Screens and Furnishings

Ref. 5526

A two-fold paper screen painted in ink and colour on a buff and gold ground with take (bamboo) and botan (peony).

Japan Edo period 19th century

Dimensions: H. 176cm x W. 137cm

Take

Take (bamboo) in Taoism and to a lesser extent in Buddhism symbolises the notion of emptiness, this is due to the tube-like structure of the bamboo. Just as the tao (the ineffable ‘way’ of Taoism) arises from nothing and returns to emptiness, the bamboo is empty at its core. In East Asian philosophy such emptiness is perceived in a positive rather than a negative light. It is also a symbol of purification.

Haiku by Otagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875)

This gentleman
Grows and grows
Most auspiciously
Learn from him and
You, too, will flourish for ever.

Written at the age of 80 (1870)