provenance byobu

prov-e-nance ˈpräv-nən(t)s, ˈprä-və-ˌnän(t)s
noun. the place of origin or earliest known history of something.

This month over at my Provenance column on Krista & Tami’s blog Cloth & Kind I could not resist writing about byobu, those wonderful folding Japanese screens which have been entrancing the world for centuries. I have long loved them and purchasing an antique one was on the top of my list when I moved to Tokyo almost nine years ago.  I knew the perfect spot to hang it, just above my 18th century Shanxi region bamboo altar table. Early on I found many byobu of the right age and patina to be priced beyond well beyond my reach, but perhaps in my second year I stumbled across this small one, made from the fragments of a very very old screen, at the Heiwajima Antiques Fair. This instagram photo does not begin to do it justice as it doesn’t highlight the delicate gold leaf confetti in the left corner or the fencing around the chrysanthemums in the right. Unfortunately, everything is all packed now, so I can’t show you a better photo – you’ll have to wait for the unpacking at the other end.

antique Chinese bamboo altar table byobu blue and white procelain

It seems like perfect closure then that at the very last Heiwajima show I would be attending for a while this past May, that I found my dream byobu! I’ll give you a tantalizing detail but for more on it and on byobu in general, please click over to read the post on Cloth & Kind.

pine byobu detail

I know these last few posts have been all about my stuff, but there is something about leaving a country that one has lived in for a while that sends everyone on a frenzy of acquisition! I can’t tell you how busy I was with antiques for other people this spring (antique stone statue everyone!) and along the way I caught the bug myself. Honestly, while hundreds of items have passed though my hands these last years, I have always been good at letting them go on to their new homes. Here at the very end, I felt the need to tick off some boxes for myself. Has this ever happened to you? What did you buy when abroad, either living or traveling? Are there things you regret not buying?

Related Posts:
Beautiful Byobu…Japanese Screens at The Nezu Museum and at Home
Ogata Korin’s Iris Masterpieces Reunion Postponed
The Altar Table Reimagined…From Worship to Workhorse
Shrine Sale/Antique Show Schedule