Posted in Art, Festivals

Children’s Day and the Black Carp

In Japan, black carp were known for their courage and strength, and streamers and banners  depicting these carp were used as symbols by samurai warriors. The streamers or ‘windsocks’ are known as Koinobori, while the carp are known as koi.

Today Koinobori are used on Children’s Day, 5 May. A pole is planted with a colourful streamer above, a black carp streamer below, representing the father, and then a red carp streamer for the mother, with smaller and different coloured streamers representing the children. Initially Children’s Day was known as Tango no sekku, or Boy’s Day, and was only to honour sons. It used to be celebrated according to the lunar calendar, but was fixed on 5 May, after Japan began using the lunar calendar. Girl’s Day was on 3 March. But in 1948, Boys Day was renamed Children’s Day, celebrating the happiness of both boys and girls, and 5 May became a national holiday.  Apart from carp streamers, a kintaro doll too is depicted, riding on a carp. Kintaro is a folk hero, a child with superhuman strength.  One of Kintaro’s fictional exploits, was the capture of a black carp.

In the Edo period , black carp were were popular with great artists who often depicted them in paintings or woodblocks.

Black carp have been selectively bred to create ‘brocade carp’. Selective breeding actually started in Japan in the 1820s, but today this has been refined, and these coloured carp are kept in ornamental ponds. White and red, known as Kohaku, are the most popular. Decorative carp are now avavilable across the world.

Masuji Ibuse [1898-1993], famous for his novel Black Rain, on the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima, also wrote The Carp, a story of friendship. Crazy Iris [Kakitsubata] is another of his works on Hiroshima, a species of Iris distorted by radiation.

Posted in Art, Berthe Morisot, Impressionism

Berthe Morisot

Berthe Morisot; The Artist's Daughter, Julie, with her Nanny; c. 1884
Berthe Morisot, French, 1841 – 1895; The Artist’s Daughter, Julie, with her Nanny; c. 1884; Oil on canvas; 22 1/2 x 28 in. (57.15 x 71.12 cm) (sight); Minneapolis Institute of Art; The John R. Van Derlip Fund 96.40

[By Berthe Morisot –, Public Domain,

One of the paintings of Berthe Morisot, a French impressionist. I was inspired to read more about her after seeing a programme on TV [in French, with subtitles].

The documentary focused on her relationship with the painter Edouard Manet–she later married his brother. Living in Paris, she seemed an independent woman, unmarried at the age of 33, exhibiting her paintings, and making a name for herself. She was associated with Monet and other impressionists–the attitude towards their new style was not favourable at the time.

And the historical background includes the Prussian invasion of Paris.

Adding a brief extract from wikipedia, below:

“Berthe Marie Pauline Morisot (French: [mɔʁizo]; January 14, 1841 – March 2, 1895) was a painter and a member of the circle of painters in Paris who became known as the Impressionists. She was described by Gustave Geffroy in 1894 as one of “les trois grandes dames” of Impressionism alongside Marie Bracquemond and Mary Cassatt.

In 1864, she exhibited for the first time in the highly esteemed Salon de Paris. Sponsored by the government, and judged by Academicians, the Salon was the official, annual exhibition of the Académie des beaux-arts in Paris. Her work was selected for exhibition in six subsequent Salons[2] until, in 1874, she joined the “rejected” Impressionists in the first of their own exhibitions, which included Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Alfred Sisley. It was held at the studio of the photographer Nadar.

She was married to Eugène Manet, the brother of her friend and colleague Édouard Manet.”