Title: Old Plum
Creator: Kano Sansetsu (Japanese, 1590–1651)
Medium: Four sliding-door panels (fusuma); ink, color, gold, and gold leaf on paper.
Dimensions: Overall (of all four panels): 68 3/4 x 191 1/8 in. (174.6 x 485.5 cm)
Repository: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
This work of art consists of four sliding screens. The picture is lined with golden ground and twisted black branches of a giant plum tree, which is quite spectacular.Plum trees usually bloom around February and March, so we could imagine this picture depicts a scene from early spring. According to the description from the source site, this work of art depicts Chinese Daoism theme, so we could speculate that the creator Kano Sansetsu use this plum tree to express his pursuing of the paradigm of gentleman who is tough, preserving, unyielding and high mindedness. Although we cannot see it directly from this painting, the source site also mentioned it’s about the eight Daoist immortals, so maybe there are some potential connection with one of the Daoist immortals Zhangguolao who is a representation of hard wood from the five elements of Daoist belief. We may also infer that the contrast between small white plum blossom and big old trunk may represents the strong vitality of plants. Those curved strong trunks seem to be moving and pursuing the blossoms on the edge of the trunks.