tsukinami-e 月次絵
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Pictures depicting activities associated with the months of the year, representing one of the most important categories of *yamato-e やまと絵 during the Heian and Kamakura periods. Two other notable genres of yamato-e of these periods, namely *shiki-e 四季絵 (pictures of four seasons) and *meisho-e 名所絵 (pictures of famous places), seem to have provided the impetus for the rise of tsukinami-e at the beginning of the 9c. Typical activities of the twelve months, which were often depicted on a pair of six-panelled folding screens *byoubu 屏風 or sliding panels *shouji 障子 or souji, included practices closely tied to the changing seasons, such as the gathering of seedlings at places like Kasugano 春日野 in Nara, that signified the new year. Paintings also featured scenes of cormorant fishing for June; a festival dedicated to the Milky Way, for July, Tanabata 七夕; maple viewing for the autumn months, or end-of-the-year activities for the twelfth month.
Although tsukinami-e from the Heian and Kamakura periods have not survived, literary works of the time, such as GENJI MONOGATARI 源氏物語 (The Tale of Genji, *E-awase 絵合 Chapter 17) refer to them. Also, records of waka 和歌 poems which were written on small poem cards and pasted on the tsukinami-e screens have been preserved, providing us with much needed information and glimpses into the nature of the scenes depicted. These poems suggest that there were variations in the selected activities; but whatever the choice, the paintings of the events vividly expressed the sense of transition from one season to another. The earliest extant examples of tsukinami-e date from the late Muromachi period; one example is a single eight-paneled screen in the Tokyo National Museum, by an anonymous artist of Tosa school *Tosaha 土佐派. It includes new activities such as a dog-chasing game which were favored by warriors. These reflect the shift in political power that took place during the Kamakura period. There is also a copy of a lost pair of six-paneled screens, attributed to Tosa Mitsunobu 土佐光信 (active ca. 1469-1522), which depict monthly activities in Kyoto.
Tsukinami-e was not the exclusive domain of Tosa artists. A number of small painted fans depicting seasonal activities, now in the Kouenji 光円寺 and other collections, have been attributed to artists of the Kanou school *Kanouha 狩野派. Popular festivals and excursions to scenic places in and around Kyoto, which formed the nucleus of the lives of Kyoto citizens and provided them with diversions, were eventually depicted together in a large, comprehensive composition known as *rakuchuu rakugai-zu 洛中洛外図 (Pictures of Inside and Outside Kyoto). The final transformation of tsukinami-e may be seen among the works of Edo period *ukiyo-e 浮世絵 artists, such as Katsukawa Shunshou 勝川春章 (1726-92) and Kitagawa Utamaro 喜多川歌麿 (1753-1806), who depicted beautiful women engaged in seasonal activities favored by courtesans of the *Yoshiwara 吉原, Edo's licensed quarter, or the ordinary residents of the city.


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