Fire Screen with Shell-Matching Game

Fire Screen with Shell-Matching Game

貝合図刺繍袱紗ファイヤースクリーン

c. 1870-80

Gilt wood frame with embroidered silk gift cover mounted as a panel

Overall: 135.9 x 86.4 x 40.6 cm (53 1/2 x 34 x 16 in.)

Dudley P. Allen Fund 2007.182

Location

Description

This screen shielded sitters from the heat of a fireplace. The panel incorporates a Japanese cloth gift cover (fukusa), demonstrating the 19th-century fashion in France for Japanese aesthetics. The French frame is carved to resemble bamboo. In Japan, people traditionally draped fukusa over gifts, selecting designs relevant to the occasion. The lids of the hexagonal lacquer game-piece boxes have a crane in clouds and a tortoise in waves, both symbols of longevity. Wedding gift sets often included shell-matching games like the one depicted here. Only the two halves of a specific clamshell can be perfectly matched; game players used the shells’ interior paintings as clues. Games were sometimes painted with episodes from literature, such as the Tale of Genji.

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