This marvelous depiction of two Sparrows (“Suzume”) seated on a Bamboo (“Take”) branch is reminiscent of the work of Ikeno Taiga in the 18th century. The painting has a spontaneous quality to it, while the sparrows and bamboo are nicely defined. The thin bamboo bends under the weight of the sparrows as they decide whether to rest or nest. This small bird has the reputation for incessant chattering, which has suggested the common description of loquacious people being “as talkative as sparrow.” On a nicer note, the chirps the sparrow makes sound like the word for loyalty, which gains much merit for the small bird. The sparrow in bamboo are a popular pattern in Japan due to the frequent appearance of nest building sparrows in bamboo groves. As revealed in a famous Japanese folktale called “The Sparrow with the Cut Tongue,” the sparrow also exemplifies the virtue of repaying one’s obligations; while bamboo is considered versatile, graceful and auspicious as well as strong and flexible.
This lovely work of art has been hand painted using the “Rice Paste Resist” or “Tsutsugaki” method on hand woven Chirimen Silk. The colors reflect the age of the art, as they come from natural dyes. The original textile from which this marvelous fragment has been taken was a “Nagajuban” or Informal Kimono intended for wearing in the home, often underneath another Kimono. Thus, the man for whom this fabulous Kimono was created had to have been an individual of great wealth and high social standing in order to have been able to commission this work of art for no other pleasure than his own.
harete suzume no
the clouds are gone and sparrows
are telling each other tales
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