Mitate-e illustration to a poem by Saigyō Hōshii - ROM2015_14592_2


Mitate-e illustration to a poem by Saigyō Hōshii

Medium:7-colour woodblock print on paper
Geography: Japan
Date: 1766 - 1768
Period: Edo period
Chuban 28.0 x 20.8 cm
Object number: 926.18.113
Credit Line: Sir Edmund Walker Collection
Not on view
DescriptionThe standing figure is warmly dressed and reads a letter. The other sits on the floor. In 1970, Jack Hillier identified the figures as two young women (p. #97, but scholars such as Tanabe Masako in 2002 (p. 112) and David Waterhouse in 2013 (p. 118) have pointed out that they are in fact danshō (male prostitutes). In the background, a marsh and two snipes can be seen through the open shōji paper sliding doors. This is one of three prints that illustrate the sanseki no uta (The Three Poems on Autumn Twilight), poems about autumn twilight. This print is an illustration to a poem by Saigyō (1118–1190), while two others are dedicated to poems by Fujiwara no Teika (1162–1241) and Jakuren (1139–1202) (see Cat. 64). The poem reads: kokoro naki even a body mi ni mo aware wa which has rejected matters shirarekeri of the heart feels pangs shigi tatsu sawa no of melancholy snipe rise from akino yūgure the marsh evening in autumn (trans. Rodd, 157) Early in his career, Saigyō was in the Hokumen no bushi (“North-Facing Warriors”), an elite palace guard created by Retired Emperor Shirakawa (1053–1129, r. 1072–1086). It members were, according to William LaFleur—citing the research of Mezaku Tokue and Gomi Fumihiko—chosen for their physical beauty so they could serve as “‘paramours’ of their royal patrons.” (pp. 8-10) This fact, however, was not known to early modern audiences. References: Hillier 1970; LaFleur 2003; Rodd 2015; Seishun no ukiyo-e shi 2002; Waterhouse 2013
Browse Categories:Art & Music
If you see an error or have additional information, please contact us by clicking here.