TAMAZUSA 玉梓(2016)

Messengers a long time ago are said to have carried twigs of the Japanese cherry birch tree. Because they twisted the twigs around love letters, these messages were known as tamazusa - tama meaning ‘treasure’ and azusa being the name of the tree. This work of mine is a homage to an artist I admire and tantamount to a personal message to him, so I have chosen this title. However, since he passed away in 1800, it is safe to assume that he will never see my message.

 

The barnyard chickens that often appear in Jakuchu Ito’s ‘Doshokusaie’ series are a unique breed that has developed over the years from the first chickens brought to Japan during the Yayoi Period (300 BC - 300 AD). Drawn to its beautiful feathers, sharp eyes and beak, and regal posture that I can only describe as something like a ‘dinosaur of the gamecock,’ I did some reading and discovered that it is included amongst the vertebrate class of reptilia that both fowls and reptiles belong to. But, what is so brassy about it is that, contrary to thought, the bird cannot live without being fed, so when the number of those being bred plummeted during the war, it was declared a Natural Monument and protected. Despite the difficult times, it was some how preserved by bird lovers and looks like it does now. Come to think of it, these chickens may very well be dinosaurs. And, because of the way this unhurried chicken resembled Ito’s work the moment I captured her posturing with my camera, I occurred to me that his composition was very photographic. 

 

 

 古来、便りを伝える使者は梓の枝を持っていたといわれる。艶めいた手紙を枝に捻り結び付けたものを玉梓と呼ぶことから、この作品は私から絵師へのオマージュであり、秘めた手紙にあたるものだと思い名付けた。しかしながら、梓という名の樹木は本当のところ存在しないそうだ。そのため、きっと私の手紙は永久に届くことはないだろう。

 

伊藤若冲「動植綵絵」に多く登場する日本鶏は、弥生時代に渡来した鶏が長い年月を経て独特の品種に発展した。その美しい羽、鋭い眼差しとくちばし、軍鶏の恐竜のような立派な立ち姿に魅せられ、調べて行く内に鳥類と爬虫類は共に脊椎動物門の爬虫綱に含まれることを知った。そして、その猛々しさとは裏腹に飼われないと生きられぬ生物であるが故、日本が戦争に向かうにつれ飼育数が激減すると「天然記念物」として守られ、それでもなお苦しい時代の中を全国の愛鶏家達の手によりどうにか生き延びて現在の姿がある。そのことを思うとやはり彼らは「恐竜」なのかも知れない。そして、忙しなく動く鶏の仕草を私のカメラでとらえた一瞬が「動植綵絵」のそれに似ていたとき、若冲の構図は極めて写真的だったのではないかと思った。

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright Ⓒ 2013-2017 Akemi Ohara All rights reserved.