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Millet Fields under Sun and Moon

A work made of pair of six-panel screens; ink, colors, and gold on paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of pair of six-panel screens; ink, colors, and gold on paper.


17th century


Artist unknown

About this artwork

Washed in bright sunlight on the right, a field of millet is adorned with leaves painted with a vibrant green malachite, while on the left the browned leaves of the plants nestle together under the moonlight.
Lacking both a signature and any identifying seals, these screens are likely the work of an artist from the Tosa school of painting, who, although unknown to us today, was highly accurate in his botanical rendering of the fields. Tiny white dots of shell-white pigment (gofun) form a patterned surface across the full heads of grain. Viewers who sat on tatami mats surrounded by these screens would have felt as if the billowing mass of each field was like a comfortable blanket that they could pull over themselves at night.
The pairing of the sun and the moon on screens dates back several centuries and carries Buddhist, Daoist, and Shinto associations. But its combination with edible grains, as seen here, is a 16th-century innovation that is perhaps the result of improved farming technologies and seed strains that caused agricultural yields to increase.
Rotation 2: August 15-September 27, 2009


Currently Off View


Arts of Asia


Millet Fields under Sun and Moon


Japan (Artist's nationality)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Pair of six-panel screens; ink, colors, and gold on paper


Each: 165.3 × 366 cm (65 1/8 × 144 1/8 in.)

Credit Line

Restricted Gift of the Rice Foundation

Reference Number


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