Birds and Flowers

Unidentified artist

Not on view

By the tenth century, bird-and-flower painting was an established genre in East Asian painting. In Korea folding screens on this subject became prevalent in the late Joseon period and continued to be popular in the twentieth century.

Carefully painted and composed, the scenes on this colorful screen are characterized by meticulous depictions. Each panel portrays one or more pairs of birds resting on or flying around a blossoming plant, a tree, or reeds. Other species appear as well, including insects and the marine life seen in the fifth panel. Many of the motifs have poetic meaning and embody wishes for wealth, career advancement, longevity, and fertility. The symbolism of male-female bird pairings—such as mandarin ducks, known to mate for life—made such screens suitable for wedding ceremonies or a bridal chamber.

Birds and Flowers, Unidentified artist, Ten-panel folding screen; ink and color on silk, Korea

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