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Bamboos and insects
Important Cultural Property
Attributed to Zhao Chang
1 hanging scroll
Color on silk
Southern Song period/13th century
Tokyo National Museum
This is a painting known as "Crooked bamboo by Chosho." Centering on the crooked bamboo, plants and insects, such as gourds, cockscombs, butterflies, dragonflies, bell crickets and giant katydids, are depicted realistically via delicate brushwork and using clear colors. Flowers and insects depicted in sochuzu (paintings of plants and insects) seem to have various hidden meanings. For example, gourds, which are also represented in this picture, symbolize fertility and eternity and cockscombs together with grasshoppers constitute a design of good omen symbolizing promotion and social success. Although grasshoppers are not depicted in this picture, the cockscombs were probably added to represent social success. Chosho, the authenticated author of this painting, was a painter of the Imperial Painting Academy in the early Northern Song period who excelled in kacho paintings, particularly sesshika painting (paintings of a single spray of flowers or a blossoming tree branch) and called himself "sketch Chosho." Although the true authorship of this painting has not been clearly established, it is the best among existing sochuzu. There is a Zakkeshitsuin seal, which is said to be the seal of Ashikaga Yoshinori, affixed on the picture and it was treasured as part of the Higashiyama Gomotsu (the Imperial collection of art objects, books, etc., during the Muromachi period) in Japan. It was previously possessed by the Asano family.