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Unkoku Toeki

unkoku1.jpg

unkoku.jpg

Unkoku Tōeki | Japan 1591-1644 | Landscapes with Li Bai and Lin Bu early Edo period | Ink, colours and gold wash on paper on six-fold wooden framed screens (byōbu), edged with woven silk and covered verso in paper relief printed in black | Pair of six-panel screens: 169 x 377.2cm (overall comp.) Gift of James Fairfax, AO, through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 1992 | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Unkoku Tōeki, 'Pair of six-fold screens (byōbu)', c.1640-44

Unkoku Tōeki, 'Pair of six-fold screens (byōbu)', c.1640-44

Unkoku Tōeki
Japan  1591-1644
Landscapes with Li Bai and Lin Bu early Edo period
Ink, colours and gold wash on paper on six-fold wooden framed screens (byōbu), edged with woven silk and covered verso in paper relief printed in black
Pair of six-panel screens: 169 x 377.2cm (overall comp.)
Gift of James Fairfax, AO, through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 1992
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Unkoku Tōeki    

Landscapes with Li Bai and Lin Bu early Edo period

This pair of screens by Unkoku Tōeki depicts the Chinese poets Li Bai (701-762) and Lin Bu (967-1028).

Li Bai, considered one of China's greatest literary figures, is represented admiring a waterfall, a reference to one of his best-known poems, Waterfall at Lu-Shan. Li Bai chose not to follow the usual path of scholars into Chinese political administration. Instead, he travelled widely, documenting his experiences, both real and imagined, in poetry that expresses his rejection of an ordered and sedentary life.

Similarly, Lin Bu refused an official position at court, choosing instead to live in seclusion. He is famed for his admiration of the plum blossom, associated in Chinese and Japanese tradition with moral purity and resilience.

Because of their rejection of political service, both poets are connected with the concept of scholarly reclusion. Reclusion in sixteenth-century Japan, however, did not necessarily involve a complete rejection of political life. Instead, many men enacted reclusion by engaging in activities such as chakai (tea gatherings) in chashitsu (tea houses), which were designed to resemble hermit's retreats, as depicted in the Tōeki screens. They therefore associated themselves with a high-minded ideal while still maintaining positions of power.