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  • In the Country of Fans, Japan

    28 November 2018 – 20 January 2019
    Suntory Museum of Art

     
    Ever since being invented in Japan, most probably in the medieval period, folding fans have acquired varied uses, not only practical but also ritual and symbolic.

    In the old days, Japanese fans were brought to China and the Korean Peninsula as special gifts and souvenirs. 10th century Chinese documents refer to them by adding such characters as “Japanese” and “folding” to the already-existing Chinese word “fan”, thereby suggesting their Japanese origin.

    Importantly also, folding fans have served as a medium of communication and art, giving forms and motifs to artistic and literary expressions developed in the country.

    The present exhibition will highlight Japanese aesthetics expressed with folding fans, covering a wide range of historical periods and genres of art and crafts.

    *Reproduction of the materials without authorization is prohibited.


    Highlights of the exhibition

    ◆ A total of one hundred Japanese folding fans, including those from different art schools and historical periods, were said to be among the Japanese exhibits showcased at the 1878 “Exposition universelle” in Paris. The “universal exposition” furthered the popularity of “Japonisme” already in vogue.


    The folding fan used to be an object endowed with a mysterious power to connect the divine and the human.

    「扇の国、日本」サントリー美術館
    Left) 【Important Cultural Property
    Cypress Fan with Painted Decoration
    Heian period, 12th century
    Sada Jinjya Shrine, Shimane (on deposit to Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo)
    *On display from 28 November to 24 December

    Right) 【National Treasure
    Fan-shaped Booklet of the Lotus Sutra,Vol. 1
    Heian period, 12th century
    Shitenno-ji Temple, Osaka
    *On display from 12 December to 24 December


    ◆ “Ogi nagashi” or “the floating of fans” is a medieval pastime, a game, and later, a decorative motif. People threw folding fans in the river to admire the beauty and find symbolic meanings of their ever-changing forms on the water surface.

    Artistic expressions of “floating fans” from the medieval to the pre-modern period will be presented.

    「扇の国、日本」サントリー美術館
    【Important Cultural Property】
    Fans Floating on a Stream (four panels from the north side of the first room in the Shogunate bathing rooms at Nagoya Castle)
    Edo period, ca. 1633
    Nagoya Castle Office

    「扇の国、日本」サントリー美術館
    Dancers
    six panels, Edo period, 17th century
    Suntory Museum of Art

    「扇の国、日本」サントリー美術館
    Dancers (one of the six panels)
    Edo period, 17th century
    Suntory Museum of Art


    ◆ The use of folding fans
    became widespread across the country. The folding fans were also exported to China and the Korean Peninsula in large quantity.

    The folding fan was used, not only as a practical and stylish item, but also as a medium of communication.

    「扇の国、日本」サントリー美術館
    Under the Eaves of a Fan Shop
    two-fold screen, Edo period, 17th century
    Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts (Taman Collection)

    「扇の国、日本」サントリー美術館
    Album of Fan Paintings
    one album, Muromachi–Momoyama period, 15th–16th century
    Nara National Museum (Photo by Kinji Morimura)


    ◆ The folding fan came to serve as a canvas of art. Literary genres, styles and symbolism peculiar to the folding fan developed, most prominently in connection with the .Japanese poetry “waka”.

    「扇の国、日本」サントリー美術館
    Scattered Fan Paintings from The Tale of Genji, pair of six-fold screens (lefthand screen)
    Muromachi period, first half of 16th century
    Jodo-ji Temple, Hiroshima (Photo by Koji Murakami)


    ◆ Paintings on folding fans
    , based on a variety of themes and by diverse schools in the Edo period (from the 17th through the 19th centuries), will be on display.

    「扇の国、日本」サントリー美術館
    Parody of Nasu no Yoichi, Battle of Yashima
    Suzuki Harunobu, one sheet, Edo period, ca. 1766–1767
    Private Collection
    *On display from 26 December to 20 January

    「扇の国、日本」サントリー美術館
    Fan-shaped Portraits of Popular Actors of East-Japan, Otani Hiroemon III
    Katsukawa Shunsho, one sheet, Edo period, ca. 1772–1789
    Chiba City Museum of Art
    *On display from 19 December to 20 January


    ◆ The shape of the folding fan
    has been considered as “auspicious” in Japan, as the pie-shaped wedge spreading out from the center symbolizes prosperity.

    Art and crafts depicting auspicious fans, mainly from the pre-modern period, will be displayed.

    「扇の国、日本」サントリー美術館
    Fan-shaped Lidded Container, Oribe Ware
    Momoyama period, 17th century
    Umezawa Memorial Museum

    「扇の国、日本」サントリー美術館
    Katabira with Plum Tree and Fan Motifs
    Edo period, 18th century
    Joshibi University of Art and Design Art Museum
    *On display from 28 November to 10 December

    「扇の国、日本」サントリー美術館
    The Battle of Ichinotani
    Kaiho Yusetsu, pair of six-fold screens (righthand screen)
    Edo period, 17th century
    Saitama Prefectural Museum of History and Folklore
    *On display from 28 November to 24 December

    「扇の国、日本」サントリー美術館
    The Battle of Ichinotani
    Kaiho Yusetsu, pair of six-fold screens (lefthand screen)
    Edo period, 17th century
    Saitama Prefectural Museum of History and Folklore
    *On display from 28 November to 24 December

* The above is the information known at the time of publication and subject to change without prior notice.

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