Tortoiseshell screens, lacquered and inlaid with ivory, were some of the most sumptuous of Meiji period (1868-1912) decorative arts. They served no other purpose than to show off the good taste and refinement of the owner. Here, the screen depicts the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove. This is a Chinese legend where seven Daoist friends gathered frequently in a bamboo grove to avoid the intrigues of court life. In the grove they wrote poetry, played music and drank wine, expressing the freedom and spontaneity of nature.