Katsushika Hokusai, 1760-1849
The Hundred Poems [By the Hundred Poets] as Told by the Nurse: Prince Motoyoshi
(Hyakunin isshu uba ga etoki: Motoyoshi shinno)
a man pulls hard to lead a bull along a paved path while two women, their faces concealed by umbreallas, pass by with a porter; signed zen Hokusai Manji, with publisher's seal Eijudo of Iseya Sanjiro, censor's kiwame seal, ca. 1835-36
oban yoko-e 9 7/8 by 14 3/8 in., 25 by 36.6 cm
The poet Motoyoshi (890-943) was the eldest son of Emperor Yozei, who reigned 877-884. Prince Motoyoshi was known for his armorous adventures. The poem suggests the poet will meet his lover at the risk of his life.
Ima hata onaji
Mi wo tsukushite mo
Awanu to zo omou
Now, in dire distress,
It is all the same to me!
So, then, let us meet
Even though it costs my life
In the Bay of Naniwa
Morse suggests that the phrase 'Mi wo tsukushite mo' is a play on 'miotsukushi' which refers to stakes used as tidal gauges, as in 'I will stake my life on it'- a pun which works in English as well. Hokusai's view of the Naniwa Bay, with tidal stakes in the middleground, seems to be a visual manifestation of that double-entendre. While the young porter accompanying the two women at right (presumably en route to a rendezvous), has a furoshiki decorated with what is probably a the character 'san' (or 'three'), which is probably an acknowledgement of the new publisher, Ise Sanjiro, who had taken over production of this series in 1835.
J. Hillier, Hokusai: Paintings, Drawings and Woodcuts, 1955, no. 116
Matthi Forrer with texts by Edmond de Goncourt, Hokusai, 1988, p. 360, no. 458
Peter Morse, Hokusai: One Hundred Poets, 1989, p. 60-61, no. 20.
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site last updated
August 10, 2020
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