Otagaki Rengetsu | Pair of Sake bottles
This pair of Sake bottles was exhibited at the Nomura Art Museum, Kyoto in 2014, and published in the exhibition catalogue: "Otagaki Rengetsu: Poetry and Artwork from a Rustic Hut, p.114 and 115.
Among her various creations, Rengetsu is perhaps best known for the exquisite vessels that she crafted for both the sencha and the chanoyu traditions of tea drinking. However, she also created a great number of bottles, flasks and cups for another beverage - sake. As with her other ceramics, Rengetsu's sake wares are adorned with her poems inscribed in her exquisite calligraphy, resonating playfully with the mood of sake drinking. (Meher McArthur, The Sake Wares of Otagaki Rengetsu, Black Robe White Mist, p. 77.)
As if raising and lowering
his true heart like a standard
in one line
will he pass through to meet his lover
beyond Osaka Gate?
"Standard bearers (yarimochi yakko) headed up the processions of feudal lords (daimyo). Upon hearing one herald the imminent arrival of the lord, villagers prepared to show obeisance by bowing when he passed (usually in a palanquin or on horseback). In her poem, Rengetsu wonders if the male protagonist seeking to reach his lady is as determined as a yakko is when hoisting this standard in straight, forceful thrusts. The Osaka Gate was a checkpoint along the Tokaido Nakasendo roads, passing through Kyoto and Shiga. Official papers were usually required for passage, and their acceptance was subject to the discretion of the guards." (Catalogue 2014, p. 155)
"The Wisteria Maiden (Fuji Musume) is one of a set of five Kabuki dances based on characters from Otsu-e (pictures from Otsu, a town just outside of Kyoto on the shores of lake Biwa) The story begins with a young man admiring a painting of a young lady in a window in Otsu. She looks back, growing so infatuated with him that she steps right out of the painting, becoming flesh and blood, wearing gorgeous robes and a lacquered hat, carrying a branch of blooming wisteria. She dances for him and vows are exchanged. Soon, he proves to a neglectful lover with a wandering eye. There is a famous scene in which, after quarrelling, the lovers reconciled with sake, making the design especially appropriate for a flask." (Catalogue 2014, p. 156)
Floating out into the world
from a painting
with ancient and enchanting
gestures of the hands...
waves of wisterias blossoms.
Otagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875)
Pair of Sake bottles
H: 15.6 cm (6 in.)