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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Eaves Decorated with Irises for the Tango Festival

Artist:
Kikuchi Yōsai (Japanese, 1781–1878)
Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
dated 1867
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
Dimensions:
46 5/8 x 15 1/2 in. (118.4 x 39.4 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
The Howard Mansfield Collection, Purchase, Rogers Fund, 1936
Accession Number:
36.100.98
Not on view
Kikuchi Yōsai was a painter of distinguished samurai extraction who was most famous for his meticulously brushed portraits of historical personages. This abbreviated, probably impromptu, painting of a thatched roof decorated with irises was created to commemorate the Tango Festival, celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar year. The Tango Festival is also known as Boys’ Day, when families prayed for the health and strength of their male offspring (Girls’ Day is celebrated on the third day of the third month). Parents would put out samurai armor and warrior dolls in display alcoves and fly carp banners from the roof. According to folklore taking a bath with iris leaves on this day drives diseases away and eaves of homes were sometimes decorated with irises. The holiday is also called the Iris Festival (shōbu no sekku). The artist mentions in his signature this painting was created for this occasion.
Signature: Teibō Tango hachi-ichi ō Yōsai (Yōsai, an old man of 81 years, 1867, 5th day of the 5th month)

Marking: Seal: Yosai
Howard Mansfield , New York (until 1936; sold to MMA)
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