AAL at Masterpiece: Gregg Baker Asian Art


A two-fold paper screen painted in ink and colour on a gold ground with white kiku (chrysanthemum) behind a brushwood fence.

Japan 19th Century Edo period

H. 67 ¾ x W. 75 in. (172 x 190.5cm)

Byōbu (wind wall) are Japanese folding screens made from several joined panels, bearing decorative painting and calligraphy, used to separate interiors and enclose private spaces, among other uses. Byōbu were introduced in Japan in the eighth century, when Japanese craftsmen started making their own byōbu, highly influenced by Chinese patterns. Through different Japanese eras, byōbu evolved in structure and design, along with the techniques and materials used.

The chrysanthemum flower has a long-standing history with Japan, it was first introduced in the Nara period (710 – 793 AC.) Throughout the Edo period imports of Western illustrated books was banned, so Japanese artists and designers had to produce work with the flowers that were already located in Japan. Often referred to as ‘kiku’ the chrysanthemum is a sign of longevity and rejuvenation. Following centuries of use in prints, screens and other traditional art forms, the Chrysanthemum was used as the Imperial seal of Japan.


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