General Antique Japanese Folding Screen Symbolism:
This is an extremely fine Japanese screen, superbly carved and detailed. The carving of the frame alone is a marvel, with its dragons and lifelike flowing waves. The dragon in the far east is a benign creature of the sky, a bringer of wind and thunder and life-giving rain and an abundance of rice and other produce. Thus it is a symbol of wealth and good fortune. The main panel depicts birds and a tree in blossom, most likely a cherry to signify the perfect but transient nature of human life. These are carefully modeled in carved nacre (mother of pearl). A rendering in colored resin and lacquer is the classic five-story Japanese pagoda. This was the first multistory buildings to be constructed with earthquake-proof technology, used as far back as the 7th century and still standing.
In front are a pair of tōrō (temple pedestal lanterns). The small, two-character inscription on them reads:
Meaning “Dedication” or “Offering” to Buddha which offering (of prayer) became active once the lantern was lit.
In the lower register of this Superbly Carved Antique Japanese 3 Panel Folding Screen are panels comprising a family of karashishi (dragon dogs) and lucky botan (tree peony) blossoms, bringer of health, wealth, beauty and eternal happiness, all lavishly carved in high relief.
General Screen Details:
This screen is in a style known as Yokohama or Hamamono sculptural furniture, with every exterior surface exuberantly carved. It dates to the period 1900 – 1912, the very end of the Japanese Meiji era, and a time in the West when this kind of densely ornamented furniture became fashionable. Japanese artisans were determined to show that, as part of their rapid Westernization at the time, they were capable of turning out anything the equal of, or even superior to, the splendor and artistic merit of the European or American decorative arts. Particularly that of the Western Art Nouveau taste, which this is reminiscent of, and which was so fashionable at the time.
The wood of the frame is probably what the Japanese call “cherry wood” but is actually hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) or camphor wood which has a close grain but easily carved. Zelkova and mulberry were also used (this may be what the backdrop is). Zelkova in particular has this type of wavy grain.
Although not perfect, this piece has survived extremely well. Please inquire if you have any questions or are interested in purchasing this piece. Photos do show a missing wheel, but we do have it.
Superbly Carved Antique Japanese 3 Panel Folding Screen Room Divider
Approx Age: 100
Approx. Dimensions: Center Section 78″ Tall, 43″ Wide, 3″ Deep. End panels are approx. 21″ wide at widest point.
Sku # CT-716
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