“Byōbu are composite works of art,” says Yoshihiro Takishita.
“They require not only the skills of a painter, but of a whole range of artisans: papermakers to produce the washi paper that covers the panels, lacquer painters and gold decorators, joiners who build the lattices of the frame and mounters who cover them, sericulturists in the case of silk byōbu, and woodblock artists, carvers and printers for byōbu that feature woodblock prints.”
Unfortunately, he notes, these days it is not easy to assemble a team of people with such skills.
In the heyday of traditional byōbu, paper was a precious commodity, like glass. The screen shown here on the right was discovered in tattered condition inside a storehouse when Takishita dismantled a house for relocation. The lettering visible through the gaps indicates that the screen was made by recycling account statements and other papers instead of burning them. The surface on which the paintings appear was pasted over three base layers of paper. Folding screens were often moved about, so this layered structure served to make them sturdy enough to withstand such wear and tear.
This is the final installment in a four-part series on architect Yoshihiro Takishita’s antique byōbu collection.