Dahlias in Japanese paintings/ fabrics

image of peony in Japanese weaving 2

Tokyo National Museum (http://www.tnm.jp/)

I visited my friend’s beautiful dahlia garden yesterday (the photo below).  The flowers were so beautiful! There are people who grow dahlias in Japan, too.  Dahlias like cooler summer and more are found in the northern part of Japan, such as in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost Island.


(Dahlias in Mr. G.J. Duncan’s garden)

Dahlias were imported to Japan by Dutch people in 1842.  Japanese people called dahlias ‘Tenjiku peony’ because they thought that dahlias looked like peonies.  Tenjiku meant India in old Japanese language.  Japanese people in 19th century had an impression that ‘goods imported from anywhere farther than China’ were all from Tenjiku. In fact, Japan imported very important things from Tenjiku (India): Buddhism for example. Indian chintz started to be imported from India in around the 17th century and many Japanese dyeing techniques were influenced by Indian chintz (I will write about Indian influences on Japanese fabrics in my future postings).

I am trying to find images of dahlias in old Japanese fabrics or paintings.  I have found a painting of dahlias by Gyoshu Hayami (the photo below).  I can find images of peonies in old Japanese fabrics/ paintings more easily (the photo at the top of this page for example).  Peonies were already grown in Japan in the 8th century and they appear in many different Japanese arts.

painting of Dahlia by Gyoshu Hayami (Yamatane Museum of Art) 2

        painted by Gyoshu Hayami (August 2, 1894 – March 20, 1935)

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