Then and Now Collage Inspired by Jayashree Chakravarty's Personal Space
Create your own layered collage to preserve your memories of a special place in your life.
These two panels represent the eleventh and twelfth months from a pair of six-fold screens depicting flowers, birds, and poems of the twelve months by Yamamoto Soken. Paintings that combine imagery and poetic texts are common in East Asian art, but this work contains a poetic structure unique to Japan, the waka, or 36-syllable poem. In it the Japanese poet subtly expresses emotions through metaphors of nature.
The poems on this screen were not written by the painter, but were originally composed by Fujiwara Teika (1167–1241), the foremost poet of the Kamakura period (1185–1333). Teika, a member of the nobility, wrote the “Flowers of Birds of the Twelve Months” in 1214. Some 500 years later, they experienced a renaissance of interest among the disenfranchised courtiers as well as the newly rich merchant class who sought ownership of cultural sophistication. Different styles of writing are represented suggesting it was several calligraphers, perhaps even members of a poetry club who contributed to this work. Only Konoe Iehiro (1667–1736) has been identified as one of the calligraphers.
Soken, the painter, was trained in both the Tosa and Kano schools of painting, which he blended in his work. For example, energetic Kano brushstrokes are used in the tree branches, whereas delicate Tosa coloring renders the distant hills and misty clouds. He was the teacher of the important Rinpa artist Ogata Korin.
As in most Japanese screens, the panels are read from right to left. The first panel to the far right of the right screen represents the first month, the far left panel on the left screen represents the twelfth. In this work, Soken has closely adhered to the content of the poems. The birds, flowers, plants and seasonal references all converge to celebrate the changing aspect of nature. The poems may serve as a starting point for seeing what is depicted in the paintings.