A silk gift cover featuring seven sages in a bamboo grove. The theme "Seven Sages in the Bamboo Grove" has a long history in both Chinese and Japanese art. Part fact and part legend, the seven sages were Taoists supposedly endowed with supernatural powers. They rejected the authority of Confucian teaching and government, opting instead for a reclusive lifestyle. They were said to gather in a bamboo grove from time to time to enjoy one anothers' literary talents, irreverence, and eccentricities. This behavior contested the long-held Confucian ideal of virtue earned through public service. It proposed, instead, that self-perfection came through the cultivation of individuality. While those marginalized from the affairs of government often politicized the seven sages theme, those whose reclusive sensibilities were motivated by religious practice or aesthetic pursuits also ascribed to it. This theme was popular among members of the governing samurai class who, like Chinese literati before them, often gathered in their villas and teahouses to cultivate their personal interests in poetry, music, painting, and the tea ceremony. Yuzen-dyed with some metallic couching. Very good condition, with some minor staining on both front and back and several tiny holes along the edge. 26" x 27"