Momoyama/Edo period, first-half 17th century Small six-panel screen, ink, colors, and gold on paper; depicting floating fans at Hamamatsu, with gold moriage clouds 36 3/4 x 104in (93.3 x 104cm)
The use of fans applied to screens first became popular in the medieval period (15th century). Fans, which were usually discarded with the arrival of autumn, were sometimes kept for sentimental value and re-purposed as decoration on folding screens. A sub-genre of this trend included connecting the fans with a body of flowing water (oginagashi byobu), a reference to the contemporary custom of casting fans into streams and admiring them as they float away.
Oginagashi byobu also enabled the artist to display a variety of painting styles on one surface. The example shown here includes a Muromachi-style landscape, a chapter from the Tale of Genji, a battle scene, a decorative floral motif and other genre scenes. This practice also allowed the artist to place the composition into the context of a physical setting in a manner similar to meisho-e (paintings of famous places). The slender, "dancing" pines in the foreground may identify the setting as Hamamatsu, one of the most recognizable locations in the yamato-e tradition.