Night Rain over Plantain

Details

Night Rain over Plantain

Paintings / Muromachi

Inscriptions by Taihaku Shingen and 13 other persons

Muromachi period, dated 1410 (Oei 17)

Ink on paper

1幅

Inscriptions:朝鮮国奉礼使梁需等十四名賛

Important Cultural Property

A plantain with broad leaves is painted at the bottom of this hanging scroll. Mist envelops the mountains in the background, while fine dots are used to depict rain. It seems the artist has rubbed a hard brush on a finely-meshed net to fleck the ink on the paper. The season here is autumn. In autumn, the leaves of a plantain break off and the plant is left standing to wither bare. As such, plantains became symbols of impermanence. The sound of raindrops hitting the plantain leaves seems to add to the melancholy atmosphere of autumn rain.
Chinese-style poems about this scenery are written above the painting. They were written by fourteen people: twelve Zen priests from Kyoto, the military commander Yamana Tokihiro, and a Korean diplomat travelling in Japan at that time. According to the preface, a young priest from Kyoto's Nanzen-ji temple had originally written a poem on the theme of 'Autumn Rain over Plantain.' An artist was commissioned to paint a picture on this theme, with several other people writing similar poems above the painting. The final work was then gifted to the young priest.
Monochrome ink painting took root in Japan during the Muromachi period, which lasted from around 1392 to 1573. At that time, paintings inscribed with Chinese-style poetry were very popular. This artistic form emerged from a custom of Zen priests gathering together to compose Chinese-style poems.

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