saigyou monogatari-e 西行物語絵
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Paintings based on SAIGYOU MONOGATARI 西行物語 (The Tale of Saigyou), a fictionalization of the poet-priest Saigyou's wandering life. Saigyou (1118-1190), was born Satou Norikiyo 佐藤義清, into a provincial branch of the Fujiwara 藤原 family. As a youth he excelled at archery and swordsmanship while serving as a courtier-palace guard for the retired Emperor Toba 鳥羽 (1108-56). In 1140 at age 23 he took up the life of a wandering poet-priest (leaving a wife and child according to the Tale). Saigyou eventually became one of the best-known poets of the imperial anthology SHIN KOKINSHUU 新古今集 age, with a record 94 waka 和歌 included. Although real reasons for Saigyou's taking the tonsure were probably religious, popular legend has suggested a frustrated love affair with a court lady and sympathy with the political misfortunes of his friends. After becoming a priest Saigyou remained in Kyoto for several years before making a pilgrimage to Mt. Kouya 高野, making trips to northeast Honshuu 本州, Miyajima 宮島, and in 1168 to Shikoku 四国. After spending several more years in the region of Mt. Kouya and nearby Mt. *Yoshino 吉野, he moved to the Ise 伊勢 area around 1180. After making another trip to northeast Honshuu, Saigyou spent his last years at Kousenji 弘川寺 in Kawachi 河内 (southern Osaka). Saigyou wrote prolifically and was in close contact with the poets and calligraphers Fujiwara Shunzei 藤原俊成 (Toshinari, 1114-1204) and his son Teika 定家 (Sadaie, 1162-1241). Extant illustrated scrolls of saigyou monogatari emaki 西行物語絵巻 can be divided into four lineages. The oldest, produced in the late 13c, remains in only two scrolls. The first (Tokugawa 徳川 Art Museum, Aichi prefecture) begins with Norikiyo taking the tonsure. The second (Manno 万野 Museum) illustrates his travels in Yoshino and Kumano 熊野. A third and probable fourth scroll originally would have shown the last half of Saigyou's life. Variant lineages include the Kubo 久保 version and Uneme 采女 version, best known for the copy by Soutatsu 宗達 (1630, Idemitsu 出光 Museum of Art, Tokyo). Saigyou is also represented in 17c ink monochrome "poet-portraits" as well as in *ukiyo-e 浮世絵 depictions such as *Eguchi no kimi 江口の君.


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