The rapids in a gorge that cuts through the Longmen Mountains in the upper reaches of the Yellow River in China have been called “Longmen” (Dragon’s Gate) since time immemorial. Legend has it that a fish that swam up through these rapids, was transformed into a dragon and ascended to heaven. This written episode gave rise to the expression “climbing the Dragon’s Gate” (“Toryumon” in Japanese). Using Togidashi (Burnished) Maki-e and Taka(Raised) Maki-e techniques, they have depicted on the barrel of the pen each of the carp that have yet to climb the rapids quietly swimming in tranquil waters. The cherry blossom petals on the dazzling surface of the water are subtly expressed by the use of shaped Raden (Mother-of-Pearl), and the ripples caused by carp by gold powder and Togidashi Maki-e. In contrast with the tranquil scene on the barrel, the front of the fountain pen’s cap, two carp that are transforming into a dragon appear halfway and making intense efforts to climb the rapids are powerfully depicted in Taka Maki-e. On the back of the cap, the seven colours of a rainbow arching over the rapids are expressed in Raden. Thick clouds and part of the body of a dragon peering through a gap in them are shown above the rainbow, depicting a scene that conjures up the spectacle of a carp that has successfully climbed the rapids being dazzlingly transformed into a dragon and ascending to heaven.
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