pine, bamboo, and plum
These tops depict the theme of “pine, bamboo, and plum.” This theme originated in Chinese poetry of the T’ang Dynasty (618–907) and spread throughout premodern East Asia as a poetic and artistic image. These three plants, sometimes referred to together as the “Three Friends of Winter,” were noted to be the only plants that didn’t wither or die during the winter season. They came to represent the traits of steadfastness, perseverance, and resilience. In Japan, their imagery is associated with the beginning of the Lunar New Year. Each plant in this work detaches and becomes its own top.
Hiroi Michiaki: This, too, it’s pine, bamboo, and plum, and it’s also a [theme] for good fortune. Plum, pine, and bamboo, right? This is the pine, this is the plum, and these are bamboo shoots. And all of them individually become tops.