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Pair of Doors (Sugito)
Pair of Doors (Sugito), 17th century
Ink and colors on cryptomeria; mounted as sliding doors
Left Door [1966-211-12a,b]: 63 1/2 × 31 inches (161.3 × 78.7 cm) Mount (Left Door [1966-211-12a,b]): 69 1/2 × 36 inches (176.5 × 91.4 cm) Right Door [1966-211-11a,b]: 63 3/4 × 31 inches (161.9 × 78.7 cm) Mount (Right Door [1966-211-11a,b]): 69 3/4 × 36 1/4 inches (177.2 × 92.1 cm)
Purchased with the Fiske Kimball Fund and the Marie Kimball Fund, 1966
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Looking Questions

  • How can you tell that this painting is also a set of sliding doors? (Hints: Check out their size. Look for something that would help you to open them.)
  • What are they made of? Where can you see the wood grain?
  • What kind of weather is depicted? How can you tell?
  • What time of day do you think it is? Why?
  • Look carefully at the man on the horse. Where could he be coming from or going to? Create your own story.

Art Project: Two Paintings in One

Japanese sliding doors are often painted in pairs, with a single design covering both surfaces. The design must link the two doors, and also be understood when only one of the sliding doors is displayed. Have students draw a line dividing a piece of paper in half, and draw two door frames around the edges of each half. Students should then create a single image on the whole paper, which will also be successful if only one side is showing. Some elements of the design need to visually link the two sides. Others should make each side feel complete. Finally, cut the paper in half, and create a display to show that each single door is successful, and also that both doors go together. As a game, post single doors on the wall and have students try to visually match the two doors that belong to the same design.

Research Idea: Painting the Walls

Have students research the history of wall paintings, from the ancient paintings in Lascaux Cave, France, to mosaic murals of the Byzantine Empire, to Japanese painted sliding doors, to the murals of Diego Rivera, to community murals made today in large cities around the world. Why do people put designs directly on walls? How have wall paintings been used? How do wall paintings reflect the attitudes and aspirations of the cultures that produce them?

Group Project: A Door for All Seasons

Japanese architecture reflects a unique appreciation for nature, and in traditional homes decorative elements were changed with the seasons. As a class, measure the door of your classroom. Then, cut four large pieces of craft paper, each large enough to cover the whole door. Divide the class into four sections, and have each create a design for the door that reflects the nature of a single season—spring, summer, fall, or winter. Students must cut a small piece of paper to be the same proportions as the door, and sketch their design on it. Then they should decide what colors they will use. Finally, working together, they should recreate their small design to fit the door-sized paper. The teacher can display each finished composition on the door in the appropriate season.

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