A Glimpse of the Moon- Kaoyo

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892

One Hundred Aspects of the Moon: A Glimpse of the Moon; Kaoyo
(Tsuki hyakushi: Kaimami no tsuki; Kaoyo)

with silver metallic printing on the pattern of her inner-robe, signed Yoshitoshi, with artist's seal Taiso, and publisher's date and address seal Meiji jukyunen, kyugatsu, rokuka; Nihonbashi-ku Muromachi Sanchome 9-banchi, insatsu ken hakkosha Akiyama Buemon (Meiji 19 [1886], September 6) of Akiyama Buemon of Kokkeido

oban tate-e 14 5/8 by 10 in., 37.3 by 25.3 cm

This composition presents a combination of stories and references. The tale originates from chapter 21 of the 14th-century historical epic Chronicle of Great Peace (Taiheiki). Lord Ko Moronao (d. 1351), a chief retainer of the Shogun Ashikaga Takauji (1305-1358), hears of a great beauty who happens to be the wife of another shogunal official, En'ya Takasada. Moronao arranges to see her after a bath and, even though she was without the feminine trappings of splendid robes and make-up, finds her irresistible. In an effort to take her for himself, he accuses En'ya of treason. But in a twist of fate, En'ya tries to flee and Moronao has the official and his family, including his wife, killed.

An Edo- or Meiji-period audience would know these characters from the tale of the forty-seven ronin in The Treasury of Loyal Retainers (Chushingura), in which events from 1701-1703 were fictionalized to avoid shogunal censorship. The 18th-century story was retold in a 14th-century setting using the names associated with Moronao and his lustful intransigence. En'ya's wife, who is not identified in the Taiheiki, is given the name Kaoyo (lit. 'face-world').

Though the print is titled for the Edo-period Kaoyo, the beauty is depicted with the floor-length hair and robes of a 14th-century noblewoman. In the time of Taiheiki, voyeurism would have centered on seeing her face, not her breasts. Women of imperial lineage would have been kept cloistered indoors, only meeting visitors behind a screen and certainly not in a garden. To that end, seeing her face would itself have been a tantalizing prospect for a man with Moronao's proclivities.

Yoshitoshi depicted Kaoyo before a mirror in 1872 in his Essays by Yoshitoshi series.

Keyes 1983, p. 462, no. 478.36
van den Ing & Schaap 1992, p. 134, no. 54.36
Akita Museum of Modern Art 1999, p. 30, no. 92
Stevenson 2001, no. 37
Ota Memorial Museum of Art 2009, p. 28, no. 2.37
Ota Memorial Museum of Art 2012, p. 153, no. 230
Iwakiri 2014, p. 154, no. 235



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