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Pine, Bamboo, and Plum -- shochikubai (shoh-cheekoo-bye), in Japanese -- is one of the favorite themes of East Asian art. Also called the "three friends of winter," they symbolize strength and perseverance in the face of hardship: the stalwart evergreen pine, the upright bamboo that bends but never breaks, and the plum that blossoms during the coldest winter months, encouraging us with its colorful petals and spicy fragrance and promising that spring is right around the corner. Because of these positive, honest and pure attributes, the "three friends" also symbolize felicity and good fortune. This triptych would be especially suitable for hanging at the New Year.
Taki Katei studied in Nagasaki and is often called a "nanga" painter. However, his works also display the skillful coloring and hints of Western influence of modern Japanese painting, or "Nihonga." His paintings were displayed at the 1873 Vienna World Exposition.