Tani Buncho | Letter
"I have read your letter. I am really happy that you will come visit me. We haven't met for a long time. Thank you for the Bishu ware teabowl very much. I don't have anything good to give you as a return gift. Please receive as a return gift for the tea bowl a Harimaze folding screen. I have searched for some good things and now send them to you. I am so old that I am worried about many things. Before hearing your suggestion, I decided myself and asked Mr. Watada to bring you the screen. I have gathered the samples one by one. This 28th day of the 9th [lunar] month, Buncho. – To Mr. Taicho-in."
The addressee of this letter, “Taicho-in san”, was the abbot of Taicho-in, a now defunct Yamabushi-temple in Seto, in the ancient province of Owari. Taicho-in also had a kiln, where Seto wares were produced. But when the temple was shut down in 1868 in a nationwide process of separation of Shinto from Buddhism (Shinbutsu Bunri) the kiln kept on producing for some decades. The wares that were produced there were called Bishu-yaki, after the alternate name for Owari, Bishu.
Tani Buncho obviously received a piece of (Bishu-ware) ceramic from the abbot of Taicho-in. Buncho thanks the abbot and tells him about the return gift: a particular type of folding screen, a Harimaze screen. Harimaze byobu is a generic term for screens which show a collection of papers. These papers may have calligraphies or paintings on them, or just be purely ornamental. We do not know if in the Harimaze screen Buncho is talking about in the letter he used samples of his own work or just from his collection.
Wooden box (modern) with inscription on the inside of the lid: "Buncho letter" (Buncho tegami)
Tani Buncho (1763-1841)
Ink on paper
15.7 x 51.6 cm (6 x 20 1/4 in.)
Mounting 114 x 54.4 cm (44 3/4 x 21 1/2 in.)
Wooden box (modern)