Chinese and Japanese fans at the Ashmolean Museum

A delightful selection of Chinese and Japanese fans is on show at the Ashmolean.  The display is small but has breadth of vision, encompassing painted and calligraphic fan designs from different periods, cultures and schools.  For instance, a 19th century fan by renowned Japanese artist Tani Buncho, its gold ground decorated with an array of eight butterflies, some in pastel shades, some with vivid black markings.  Or, to my excitement, an ancient 16th century fan by the Chinese Lu Zhi with a poem and lily flower that looks as fresh as if painted yesterday.  Or another 19th century Japanese fan in the Rinpa style, with green maple leaves on a metallic ground, the subtle gradations of leaves and bark evoked using the tarashikomi technique, where different colours are pooled when wet.  The exhibition is available online, but I would still recommend viewing the translucent delicacy of the originals in person.

Unfolding Nature: Images Of Summer In Chinese & Japanese Fan Paintings
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
10 July 2012 to 7 October 2012

Above: Fan. Sakai Hōitsu. early 19th c. Ink and colour with gold on silver-leafed paper. Height 24.2 cm; width 50.5 cm. Ashmolean Museum. Image: Ashmolean Museum, at