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Byōbu (屏風, びょうぶ, lit. “wind wall”; a folding screen)

Mini2:b12_byobu.jpg"Byobu: | Huge folding screen with a calligraphy of two characters: 雲 (くも, kumo, i.e. “cloud”), and 夢 (ゆめ, yume, i.e. “dream”), written by a Japanese Zen Master Kawata Ikkyū (河田一臼, かわたいっきゆう)"

It is a Japanese folding screen. Usually used for decorative purposes, such as displaying ink painting (墨絵, すみえ, sumi-e) or calligraphy. Large folding screens made of joined paper panels (or other materials, like silk wood or gold leaves, etc.) may measure up to a few meters in length, and are often used to separate sides of a Japanese-style room (和室, わしつ, washitsu).

Byōbu were introduced to Japan around 7th century C.E., initially as single panel boards. The history of folding screens goes back to the Han dynasty of China (漢朝, 206 B.C. – 220 C.E.). Byōbu means “wind wall/fence” in Japanese, suggesting its former use in preventing drafts. Various types of folding screens can be distinguished, based on the number of panels, its use or the type of decoration. It is not uncommon to display large scale calligraphy on folding screens.

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Page last modified on November 01, 2011, at 09:34 AM