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Signifying strength and resilience, bamboo—together with pine and plum (sho chiku bai)—is an auspicious symbols running through the heart of Japanese art and culture. The young bamboo depicted here—sprouting from a patch of rocks—were composed by one of the most renowned and loved waka poets of the 19th century, Ōtagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875).
Rengetsu was born into a Samurai family but was soon after adopted by the Ōtagaki family. From the age of seven to sixteen she was a lady in waiting at Kameoka castle where she was trained in the arts and courtly graces. Due to her rumored great beauty, Rengetsu soon married but after the death of her husband in 1823, she joined the temple Chion-in and became a nun, taking Rengetsu (Lotus Moon) as her Buddhist name.
Rengetsu is widely regarded as one of the greatest waka poets of the 19th century. A skilled Shijo School painter, she was also an accomplished calligrapher and potter. She admired and studied under a number of great poets including Ozawa Roan and Ueda Akinari, and later in life became a close friend and mentor to the artist Tomioka Tessai.
The poem reads:
Chiyo fu beki, yado no sachitake, iwa to nara n, sazare no uchi ni, oiide ni keri
By a house, bound to flourish for eons… among small stones, destined to become boulders… happy bamboo rising.
The artwork and poetry combine to remind us of the enduring spirit of life, and of how—though fleeting—our time here in the sun should be cherished. Simple and unadorned, the bamboo is also symbolic of purity and innocence.
Sumi and color on Japnanese paper with a silk border, this hanging scroll is 44 inches tall (112cm) and 17.5 inches wide (44cm). The artwork on the scroll is 11.5 inches tall (29cm) and 16.5 inches wide (41.5cm). It is in very good condition and comes with a certificate box notarized by a priest of Jinko-in (where Rengetsu spent the greater part of her later years). Fully insured international shipping is included in the price.
NOTE: We currently have a number of other fine works by Ōtagaki Rengetsu that are not listed in our catalog. Please contact us for details.