The Art of Japanese Screens and Furnishings

Ref. 5586

A two-fold paper screen painted in ink and colour on a gold ground with a bamboo grove amongst clouds.

Japan Edo period 18th century

Dimensions: H. 167.5cm x W. 187.5cm

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)