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A six-panel byobu
from the 17th century Byobu.jpg
A six-panel byōbu from the 17th century
Pair of screens with a leopard, tiger and dragon by Kano Sanraku
, 17th century, each 1.78 metres (5.8 ft) by 3.56 metres (11.7 ft), displayed flat Tigres et dragons par Kano Sanraku.jpg
Pair of screens with a leopard, tiger and dragon by Kanō Sanraku , 17th century, each 1.78 metres (5.8 ft) by 3.56 metres (11.7 ft), displayed flat
Left panel of Irises (Yan Zi Hua Tu 
, kakitsubata-zu) by Ogata Korin
, 1702 Irises screen 1.jpg
Left panel of Irises (燕子花図, kakitsubata-zu) by Ogata Kōrin , 1702
Left panel of the Shorin-zu byobu (Song Lin Tu Ping Feng 
, Pine Trees screen) by Hasegawa Tohaku
c. 1595 Hasegawa Tohaku - Pine Trees (Shorin-zu byobu) - left hand screen.jpg
Left panel of the Shōrin-zu byōbu (松林図 屏風, Pine Trees screen) by Hasegawa Tōhaku c. 1595

Byōbu (屏風) (lit., "wind wall") are Japanese folding screens made from several joined panels, bearing decorative painting and calligraphy, used to separate interiors and enclose private spaces, among other uses.



Byōbu are thought to have originated in Han Dynasty China and are thought to have been imported to Japan in the 7th or 8th century. The oldest surviving byōbu produced in Japan, the torige ritsujo no byōbu (鳥毛立女屏風), produced in the 8th century, is kept in the Shōsōin Treasure Repository. [1] Following the Heian period and the independent development of Japan's culture separate from mainland Asian infleunces, the design of byōbu developed further from previously Chinese influences, and came to be used as furnishings in the architectural style of Shinden-zukuri


The screens were a popular Japonism import item to Europe and America starting in the late 19th century. The French painter Odilon Redon created a series of panels for the Château de Domecy-sur-le-Vault in Burgundy, which were influenced by the art of byōbu. [2]

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Hikone screen

The Hikone screen is a Japanese painted byōbu folding screen of unknown authorship made during the Kan'ei era. The 94-×-274.8-centimetre (37.0 × 108.2 in) screen folds in six parts and is painted on gold-leaf paper. It depicts people in the pleasure quarters of Kyoto playing music and games. The screen comes from the feudal Hikone Domain, ruled by the screen's owners, the Ii clan. It is owned by the city of Hikone in Shiga Prefecture, in the Ii Naochika Collection.

<i>Cypress Trees</i>

Cypress Trees is a Kanō-school byōbu or folding screen attributed to the Japanese painter Kanō Eitoku (1543–1590), one of the most prominent patriarchs of the Kanō school of Japanese painting. The painting dates to the Azuchi–Momoyama period (1573–1615). Now in Tokyo National Museum, it has been designated a National Treasure.

<i>Red and White Plum Blossoms</i>

Red and White Plum Blossoms is an early 18th-century painting on a pair of two-panel byōbu folding screens by Japanese artist Ogata Kōrin (1658–1716). The simple, stylized composition depicts a patterned flowing river with a white plum tree on the left and a red one on the right. The plum blossoms indicate the scene occurs in spring.

<i>Tsuitate</i> Traditional Japanese single-panel portable partition

A tsuitate (衝立) is a form of single-panel portable partition traditionally used in Japan since at least the 6th century. They may be made of wood, or a wood frame covered in paper or silk cloth. The panels are often illustrated, with paintings on both sides, sometimes by well-known artists. The wood frame may be lacquered, and pricier tsuitate may be very richly decorated, including use of precious metals.

<i>Shōrin-zu byōbu</i> Pair of six-panel folding screens by Hasegawa Tōhaku

The Pine Trees screen is a pair of six-panel folding screens by the Japanese artist Hasegawa Tōhaku, founder of the Hasegawa school of Japanese art. The precise date for the screens is not known, but they were clearly made in the late 16th century, in the Momoyama period, around 1595. The screens are held by the Tokyo National Museum, and were designated as a National Treasure of Japan in 1952.

<i>Irises</i> screen

Irises is a pair of six-panel folding screens (byōbu) by the Japanese artist Ogata Kōrin of the Rinpa school. It depicts an abstracted view of water with drifts of Japanese irises. The work was probably made circa 1701–1705, in the period of luxurious display in the Edo period known as Genroku bunka.

<i>Flowering Plants of Summer and Autumn</i>

Flowering Plants of Summer and Autumn (夏秋草図屏風) is a painting on a pair of two-folded byōbu folding screens by Rinpa artist Sakai Hōitsu depicting plants and flowers from the autumn and summer seasons.

<i>Wind God and Thunder God</i> (Kōrin)

Wind God and Thunder God is a painting on a pair of two-folded byōbu by Rinpa artist Ogata Kōrin, a replica of a similar work by Tawaraya Sōtatsu, depicting Raijin, the god of lightning, thunder and storms in the Shinto religion and in Japanese mythology, and Fūjin, the god of wind.

<i>Rough Waves</i>

Rough Waves is a painting by the Japanese artist Ogata Kōrin, on a two-panel byōbu. The work was created c. 1704 – c. 1709, and depicts a swirl of stormy sea waves. It has been in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, since 1926, when it was acquired with financial support from the Fletcher Fund.

<i>Cracked Ice</i> screen

The Cracked Ice screen is a late 18th-century low two-fold Japanese screen (byōbu) intended for use at the Japanese tea ceremony. It was created in the Edo period and is signed and sealed by the artist, Maruyama Ōkyo (1733–1795), founder of the Maruyama school of realist painting. It would be used as a furosaki byōbu placed near the hearth of a room used for the Japanese tea ceremony, shielding the fire from draughts and also forming a decorative backdrop behind the tea utensils. It may have been intended to be used in the summer, to evoke the cool of the winter.


  1. 鳥毛立女屏風 第1扇 Imperial Househpld Agency
  2. "Musée d'Orsay: non_traduit".