Signed: Keisai 蕙斎
Japan, Meiji period, dated 1870
W. 28 in (71cm) – L. 20.9 in (53cm) – H. 1 in (2.5cm)
Ikeda Keisai(1855-1924) was a sculptor who was bone in Fukui prefecture. He studied under the descendant of the architect, Kuro Hanjō who came along with Dōgen from China. He learned painting under Hayase Raizan(1808-1890) and was given the artist name Keisai.
Wooden tray for the ritualized forms of making and serving Sencha tea, called otemae. The leaves of plants are often taken as the design motif and the tray is called ha-bon (literally “leaf tray”). This example is in the shape of a kajinoha leaf, paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera). Kajinoha was revered as a special tree and has been used since the ancient times in dedications to the gods. Its leaf was used as a tray to serve the offerings in the Shinto rituals. It was thus quite natural that it should be adopted as a motif for otemae. A Chinese poem and the unknown artist’s name are carved on the backside of the tray.
Vines weave the green braket
Green clouds wet the pistils
Came out from the bottom of the weeds
Hit by the gust of dewdrops