Phoenixes by Paulownia Trees

Kanō Tan'yūEdo period (17th century)

Suntory Museum of Art

Suntory Museum of Art
Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan

The phoenix, a mythical bird that has figured in Chinese iconography since antiquity, is revered as one of the four miraculous creatures, along with the unicorn, turtle, and dragon. Perching in a Chinese parasol tree (or, in Japan, in a paulownia), eating rare bamboo seeds, the phoenix appears in the world as the harbinger of a superior ruler. It was thus a popular subject for screen paintings and designs on maki-e lacquerware and other craft objects. These felicitous screens, for example, might have been suitable for weddings and other happy events as well as ceremonial occasions.


  • Title: Phoenixes by Paulownia Trees
  • Creator Lifespan: 1602 - 1674
  • Creator Nationality: Japan
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Edo
  • Creator Birth Place: Kyoto
  • Date Created: Edo period (17th century)
  • Location Created: Japan
  • Physical Dimensions: w3718 x h1586 cm
  • Painter: Kano Tan'yu
  • Object Work Material (English): Pair of six-fold screens
  • Object Title (Japanese): 桐鳳凰図屏風
  • Object Date (English): Edo period (17th century)
  • Category (Japanese): 絵画
  • Artist Name (Japanese): 狩野探幽筆
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Suntory Museum of Art, Suntory Museum of Art

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