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Bush Warbler and Blossoms

Bush Warbler and Blossoms

Bush Warbler and Plum Blossoms, by Tsuchiya Koitsu (1930)

The bush warbler occurs throughout Japanese literature as well as in the visual arts, representing early spring, and it is often portrayed alongside the plum blossom. Expressive of enduring happiness, the plum blossom is a decorative symbol of good luck, strength, beauty and longevity. The combination of these subjects originally comes from Chinese poetry, and has always been traditionally regarded as a unison that makes a good work of art.

The above motif, shows the theme of the bush warbler perched on a plum blossom tree under the bright blue sky of early spring. According to East Asian belief the bush warbler's song announces the arrival of spring. 

You will see other artworks showing the above motif. The second example is of an uchiwa-e, a print that would have been applied to a summer fan. By Hiroshige, you can see the ribmarks on the surface of the print, indicating that the print would have once been applied to a summer fan at some stage. To soothe the mind from the hot Japanese summer, the intended shade of the cool blue tone in the print has been used with intent for cooling the mind.

Bush Warbler on a Plum Tree in Moonlight by Utagawa Hiroshige (c. 1840-1842)

The third example goes further back in time. It is a scroll painting by Sakai Hoitsu, a Japanese painter of the Rinpa school, who was particularly known for reviving the style of Ogata Korin (1658-1716). The scroll painting shows the tree mottled with green using a technique called tarashikomi which was a technique used extensively in Rinpa school works of art.

Bush Warbler in a Plum Tree by Sakai Hoitsu (early 19th C) 

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