The Art of Bamboo Painting
A fine and beautiful album concerned with various genera of bamboo, how to draw them calligraphically & by painting, the extraction of medicines from them, and how to render & situate the bamboo in a series of complex paintings. Our manuscript, written in Chinese characters but with references to Japanese names of the bamboo, has three titles on the first leaf: “Chikuho higa sho” [“Collection of Secret Methods of Drawing Bamboo”], “Chikuga hiden sho” [“Pictures of Bamboo using a Collection of Secret Methods here passed on”], & “Chikuho hichu sho” [“List of Secret Information about Bamboo”].
30 fine color paintings & 24 black ink drawings of various parts of the bamboo. 50 leaves. 4to (275 x 206 mm.), modern bright silk brocade wrappers, stitched as issued. [Probably Japan: late Edo].
A beautiful album of finely rendered drawings of bamboo, accompanied by explanatory text. There has been a long tradition in both China, since the eighth century, and Japan of illustrating bamboo, with much thought given to composition and the painting of the stems, knots, branches, and leaves. A number of treatises were written on the subject.
This handsomely painted manuscript contains many illustrations, all finely painted or brush-drawn, of bamboo. Following the title, there are two leaves, which are somewhat soiled, illustrating the yin and yang of the three variations of bamboo painting. They include how to place the brush on the drawing surface and how to maneuver the brush and lift it at just the right moment (the calligraphy techniques are named). These are followed two fine calligraphic illustrations, using black ink, of bamboo branches (again the calligraphy methods are named), followed by a leaf of instructions.
Next, there are 18 pages of illustrations of leaves, with each illustration becoming increasingly more complex.
Then the manuscript text turns to the botanical aspects of bamboo: where it grows, the genera and uses, appearance, how to propagate, etc. Both Chinese and Japanese names are given, with references to the classic botanical guide Ben cao gang mu [Compendium of Materia Medica]. Next, we have 28 fine full-page illustrations of many genera of bamboo (some pages contain multiple images), each preceded by text describing the examples depicted. They are very vividly colored and finely painted, using many techniques, including the application of mica. Among the elaborate and richly colored illustrations are cross-sections, roots, sprouts, leaves, and fruits. Some of the examples are very exotic.
Now we come upon two full-page color illustrations of tools for cutting and trimming bamboo and for the extraction and preparation of medicines, with two pages of explanatory text.
Finally, we have a section with six artistic renderings of bamboo in art and literature. They include various iconic Chinese scenes, including variations of literati in bamboo groves and the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove. Each painting is preceded by a leaf of text with a description and historical background of the scene.
In fine condition. A contemporary reader has made some neat annotations in red ink. Final leaf has the artist’s pen name, written “Seigetsu an.” Several minor and marginal wormholes. Preserved in a chitsu.
Item ID: 6538