Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892
One Hundred Aspects of the Moon: no. 14, Tsunenobu
(Tsuki hyakushi: Tsunenobu)
signed Yoshitoshi with artist's seal Yoshitoshi no in, engraver's mark Enkatsu, and published by Akiyama Buemon, ca. 1886
oban tate-e 13 7/8 by 9 1/2 in., 35.2 by 24.1 cm
The poem in the title cartouche reads:
utsu koe kikeba
mada nenu hito o
sora ni shiru kana
I listen to the sound of cloth being pounded
as the moon shines serenely
and believe that there is someone else
who has not yet gone to sleep
The association of the sound of clothing being pounded with the forlorn feeling of a woman separated from her husband is such a familiar poetic reference that often only the image of a fulling block (kinuta) and mallet are all that is needed to convey the analogy. Yoshitoshi addresses the subject twice in this series, however this composition focuses not on the classical theme of love and loneliness, but rather a legend regarding a demon with an unusual respect for literary accomplishment.
The central figure of this composition is Heian period (794-1185) court official Minamoto No Tsunenobu (1015-1097), who sits in his fashionable Kyoto mansion. After reciting the poem upon hearing the sound of mallets hitting mortars, Tsunenobu is unexpectedly visited by a demon, represented only by a giant, hairy leg hovering in a swirl of clouds over the calmly seated nobleman. The demon, however, is so impressed by Tsunenobu's literary knowledge, he leaves Tsunenobu and his household unharmed.
Stevenson, Yoshitoshi's One Hundred Aspects of the Moon, 2001, cat. no. 14
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Scholten Japanese Art
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New York, New York 10019
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