With time the look of the creature was domesticated, taking on more the appearance of the crane, the onagadori (long tailed rooster) and the peacock. In the Chinese tradition the phoenix is shown with paulownia or bamboo, however the Japanese have transposed the images over time so that now it is not uncommon to see the phoenix depicted in association with various seasonal wild flowers, pine trees, peonies, chrysanthemums, and even cherry blossoms.
    A great many of the traditions surrounding tales of the phoenix come from mainland China. The phoenix is the mascot of the imperial household, especially as an emblem signifying the empress in all her grace and splendor. It also represents the sun, fire, obedience, fidelity and justice. The phoenix is said to appear only in prosperous times under just rulers. It descends from the heavens to bestow its blessings, and can be seen nesting in the paulownia (kiri) tree (below).
Notice the exquisite treatment of color and line. While both pieces are of approximately the same age, the grace and movement of the more contemporary treatment of the subject on the right is in excellent contrast to the more solid and staid piece on the left. Color as well as movement make this the perfect example of the male and female concept inherent in the name “HOUOU” (see the next page for further information).
copyright logo.jpg
with John Marshall
Welcome new friends and old! I've often been asked to write about a variety of Japanese textile and culture related subjects. This page allows me the opportunity to address your requests and to ramble off on side subjects wherever my whim and imagination lead.
Ichiroya has graciously allowed me to use images from their site to illustrate my ramblings. This is not a financial arrangement I have made - I simply believe them to be wonderful people with whom I enjoy doing business, and wish to support their endeavors. Ichiroya is a web based treasure trove of Japanese textiles, antiques, and information. If you haven't visited them in the past, just click on the icon to the left! Or, click on any of the images below to be taken directly to their page for more images and information.
    Visually, the Japanese phoenix  differs greatly from its Western cousin. Traditionally, the true phoenix is a composite of many animals -  a bird’s beak, a snake's neck, the back of a tortoise and a tail a bit like a fish. It lives in the paulownia tree and feeds on the seeds of bamboo (bamboo flowers and goes to seed only once every 60-120 years).