Kunisada (Toyokuni III)

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III)


A Pictorial Commentary on One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets: no. 36, Bun'ya no Asayasu
(Hyakunin isshu esho: Bun'ya no Asayasu)

signed Kunisada aratame Nidaime Toyokuni ga (Kunisada changing his name to Toyokuni II) with his Toshidama seal, censor's seal Mura (Murata Sahei), followed by the publisher's seal Sanoki (Sanoya Kihei of Kikakudo), ca. 1844-46

oban tate-e 14 1/4 by 10 in., 36.1 by 25.4 cm

A beauty stands near the edge of a stage wearing an understated grey kimono holds a shakuhachi (end-blown bamboo flute) in both hands, her fingertips are placed at the ready along the instrument. She glances expectantly to her right as though awaiting a cue to resume playing.

Although all of the designs in this series of 100 hundred prints were issued as individual sheets (with relevant signature and seals), there are several instances where consecutive designs relate to one another, but only occaisonally with elements that connect the compositions. This print can form the center sheet of a triptych comprised of design number 35 on the right featuring a poem by Kiyowara no Fukayabu and a beauty playing a koto; and design number 37 as the left sheet with a poem by Mibu no Tadamine and a beauty playng a kokyu. When viewed together, the three women form an ensemble in concert.

Bun'ya no Asayasu (or Fun'ya no Asayasu) was revered as one of the Rokkasen (Six Importal Poets) identified as important and notable in the introduction to the poetry anthology, Kokin Wakushu (ca. 905). His poem is presented as the front and back of the poem card (Hyakunin isshu no. 37):

upper card (front):
Shira-tsuyu ni
kaze no fuki-shiku
aki no ta ha

lower card (back):
tama zo chirikeru

In the autumn fields
where the wind blows repeatedly
on the white dewdrops,
the gems, not strung together,
do scatter about indeed

Honolulu Museum of Art, acquisition no. 25381
Tokyo Metropolitan Library, acquisition no. 4132-002-001(36)
Joshua S. Mostow, The Hundred Poets Compared, 2007, p. 108, no. 37 (poem translation)
(inv. no. 10-5236)

price: $850


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site last updated
May 25, 2023

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