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Asian Art
Artist: Ike no Taiga, Japanese, 1723–1776

Moonlight Bamboo

ca. 1758–60

Six-panel folding screen: ink on paper

without mounting: 60 15/16 × 141 1/8 in. (154.8 × 358.4 cm)
with mounting: 67 5/8 × 147 13/16 in. (171.8 × 375.4 cm)
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr., Class of 1913, Fund
Ike no Taiga was arguably the most celebrated literati artist in eighteenth-century Japan. In this painting, Taiga’s gigantic bamboo trunks, embellished with wispy clusters of leaves rustling in a light breeze, are formed with a superb range of ink tones. Taiga’s poem reads, “Playing the koto [zither] in a bamboo grove, the moon, for sure, comes [to shine upon me].” Though there is no moon in the composition, bamboo leaves rendered in light ink evoke moonlight, while a meditative silence emanates from the empty space at right. The blank space reflects Taiga’s desire to be one with nature, like a Daoist, and may also reveal his profound understanding of the Zen philosophy of “nothingness.”
Not on view
Edo period (1615–1868)

Family of Shibata Genshichi, Omi, Japan [see note 1]. Acquired by James Freeman, Kyoto, Japan, by 2005; sold to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2005

Note 1: This screen was owned by the family of Shibata Genshichi in Omi on the shores of Lake Biwa, northeast of Kyoto. People from this area commissioned Taiga, particularly when he was relatively young, in his thirties. The painting style of this screen indicates a date circa 1758 when he would have been around 35 years old, and it corresponds with the time of Taiga's activities in that region.


Sadako Ohki, “Japanese Art at Yale,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2007): 42.

Sadako Ohki, “What Makes Japanese Painting Japanese,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2007): 66–70, 78–80, fig. 1, 2.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.