The Japanese Dragon, a mythical figure
Eight king dragons reign on the Japanese archipelago : Nanda, Batsunanda, Shakara, Washukitsu, Tokushaka, Anabadatsuta, Manashi and Uhatsura.
Japanese mythological creature, with a serpentine shape, the Japanese dragon, ryū (龍), or tatsu (竜), embodies the force of nature. It is the symbol, the mystical explanation of the natural phenomena.
Who never pictured dragon images coming from the seas looking at the unleashed swell coming to crash on the coast creating big waves?
In Japan, dragon statues often border the lakes, the rivers and watercourses. The Japanese dragon is the protecting spirit of the place, to who we make offerings. He is good, hunts the evil spirits and is the guardian angel of the personal achievement.
We find in many Japanese temples dragon images in the form of sculptures serving as fountains in the purification basins we find at the entrance of the temples. Through a determined series of gestures, the visitor washes his hands and his spirit with this water before entering the temple.
In Asakusa, we celebrate the Japanese dragon in May. It symbolizes renewal. On that occasion, the inhabitants give life to a sparkling golden dragon outfit. 18 meters long, this dragon image performs a graceful dance on a traditional music accompaniment. They say that during the appearance of the god Kannon, the legendary Japanese dragon came down from the sky and that a one thousand pines forest appeared (it is the symbol of abundant crops).
Nikko, the cradle of Japanese dragon art
The Japanese dragon images are a theme and a pattern found very often in the Japanese art and craft items made in Nikko, in the Tochigi prefecture, in Japan. The one stroke Japanese dragon paintings that we propose are part of this Japanese dragon art. The reason is that it is in Nikko that the grave of an important character in the history of Japan, Tokugawa Iemitsu, is located, and that Tokugawa Iemitsu was born the year of the dragon in the Japanese horoscope. It is in particular thanks to him that the Yomeimon gate, now a national treasure, which marks the entrance of the Toshogu temple in Nikko, was built. This is in this temple that is located the grave of his grand-father, the famous Tokugawa Ieyasu, who unified Japan and is the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate that ruled Japan since the Sekigahara battle in 1600 until the start of the Meiji era in 1968. For this reason, in Nikko, the second place of the most represented animal in sculptures and other decorations is taken by the dragon, making Japanese dragon art very popular in Nikko. The first place is taken by the tiger, which is the Tokugawa Ieyasu’s horoscope sign.
The Tokugawa family still enjoys today a great prestige in Japan. Indeed, every year, the emperor and the empress come in person to the Tokugawa village, in Tokyo, where the descendant of the Tokugawa family lives, in order to celebrate her birthday.
It is easy to understand why in Nikko many artists use Japanese dragon images as subject in order to honor Tokugawa Iemitsu by creating Japanese dragon art items.
The mastery of the One Stroke Japanese dragon painting
In his small shop in Nikko, surrounded by his dragon paintings placarded on the walls, our Japanese artist Tetsuya Abe paints his Japanese dragon paintings using a very special technique named “hitofude”.
He starts his dragon painting by the head, minutely. Touch after touch, the details come up. He then soaks his brush in a mix of ink, water and paint that will give his main color to the Japanese dragon. Then he puts on his brush one or two touches of color paint that will give to the Japanese dragon painting its secondary colors. His preparation completed, he puts his brush at the base of the head. Then in a controlled gesture, he paints the body in one stroke, without lifting his brush, hence the naming “hitofude” which means “one brush” or in that case “one stroke of brush”, hence the “one stroke painting” translation in English. His technique, coupled to a precise balancing of the colors mix he puts on his brush, gives life to the scales of the body of the dragon.
As you see, hitofude dragon painting is a very particular and unique type of Japanese dragon art.
According to the legend, the sacred pearl the Japanese dragon holds with his tree claws is the treasure he secretly keeps in a palace at the bottom of the oceans. Vigorously defended, the pearl represents the creation, the knowledge and the wisdom. Its protector, for its part, represents the vital energy.
Your Japanese dragon will become your guardian angel. Decorate your interior with a unique dragon painting performed with the technique “one stroke”, it will bring you luck and safety.
Our Japanese dragon paintings are available in two formats as well as two orientations (horizontal or vertical) to fit perfectly in any type of emplacement.