The Folding Screen Painting of Chinese Lions by Kano Eitoku

“The folding screen painting of Chinese lions “(唐獅子図屏風絵)

It is a painting by Kano Eitoku (1543-1590), a representative painter of the Azuchi-Momoyama Period. He drew two shishis (lions) that most people have not seen though there were no zoo in Japan at that time.

He did not see an actual lion and depicted it. A shishi (獅子), which was regarded as a symbol of power in India or Persia.Then it came through the Silk Road as a sacred beast to Japan. In other words, shishi is imaginary creature, and became unified with koma-inu (guardian dogs) located in shrines, and they have been thought of as guardians.

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He was in favor with Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) and Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1537-1598), who had the most power, and handled a lot of folding screens and sliding doors in a huge castle such as Azuchi castle and Osaka castle.

There is a legend when Nobunaga was killed at Honnouji Temple, the screen was in Hideyoshi’ s army attacking Takamatsu Castle. And Hideyoshi offered the painting in harmony with the enemy.

Kano Eitoku had to paint many pictures in a short period of time. So the artwork has the same roughness as any other his pictures. However, it is not a rudeness, but the powerfulness and vigor are expressed. It may have been accepted also by the samurai warriors.

Title:”The huge folding screen of Chinese lions painting”(唐獅子図屏風絵)

Artist:Kano Eitoku(狩野永徳)

Location:The Imperial Household Agency


Own:Museum of the Imperial Collections

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