Katsushika Hokusai, Abe no Nakamaro

Katsushika Hokusai, 1760-1849

The Hundred Poems [By the Hundred Poets] as Told by the Nurse: Abe no Nakamaro
(Hyakunin isshu uba ga etoki: Abe no Nakamaro)

at center stands a nobleman at the top of a hill looking out at the reflection of the moon in water, two attendants bow before him; signed zen Hokusai Manji, with publisher's seal Eijudo of Iseya Sanjiro and censor's kiwame seal, ca. 1835-6

oban yoko-e 10 3/8 by 14 7/8 in., 26.4 by 37.8 cm

The poem is by Abe no Nakamaro (710-790) who legendarily was sent to Japan at the age of 16 to discover the secrets of the Chinese calendar, but his intentions were discovered by the Emperor of China who abandons him on the roof of a high pagoda to starve. The poem speaks of his longing for his home.

Furi-sake mireba
Kasuga naru
Mikasa no yama ni
Ideshi tsuki ka mo

When I look abroad
O'er the wide-stretched 'Plain of Heaven'
Is the moon the same
That on Mount Mikasa rose,
In the land of Kasuga?

Hokusai depicts the poet surrounded by soldiers who have arrived to imprison him, but bow and wait for him to finish composing his verse.

J. Hillier, Hokusai: Paintings, Drawings and Woodcuts, 1955, color plate XVIII
Matthi Forrer with texts by Edmond de Goncourt, Hokusai, 1988, pp. 360-361, no. 456 & no. 459 (sketch)
Peter Morse, Hokusai: One Hundred Poets, 1989, pp. 38-39, no. 7
Matthi Forrer, Hokusai: Prints and Drawings, 1991, no. 79
Gian Carlo Calza, Hokusai: Il vecchio pazzo per la pittura, 1999, p. 390, no. VI.12.1a & VI.12.1b (sketch)
Gian Carlo Calza, Hokusai, 2003, p. 376, no. VI.12.IA
Ann Yonemura, Hokusai, 2006, p. 99, no. 67



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site last updated
February 24, 2020

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
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