5-Cup Set by Ōtagaki Rengetsu

Artist:Ōtagaki RengetsuEra:EdoPrice:SoldInquire:info@shirakuragallery.com

Etched calligraphy on ceramic. A classic and well-executed example of a Rengetsu cup set. Each cup inscribed with felicitations and wishes of long life. The poems etched on each cup read as follow from left to right:

1) Celebrating, the day of the rat, in a field of pine seedlings… Does this thin mist, also promise long life?

2) Fine sake, in balance, becomes an elixir… for perpetual youth, and long life.

3) In the future, happiness, and long life… two sprouting leaves, to grow a thousand years.

4) 10,000 ages— to endure so long, so well… downstream waters, from Turtle Tail Peak.

5) The ages, you shall live, are as great in number, as the young cranes, nesting in the evergreen pines.

Rengetsu is a unique and celebrated figure from Japanese 19th century history. Despite her reported great beauty and talent for the arts, she faced many personal tragedies in her life including being born an illegitimate child, the death of two husbands and all of her four children, and times of destitute poverty filled with hopelessness and despair. Scholars of her work believe these hardships allowed Rengetsu an unparalleled depth of humility and compassion, evident in the fine lines and heartfelt prose of so many of her art pieces.


*Above translations used with the kind permission of The Rengetsu Foundation Project.