genji-e 源氏絵
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Pictorial representations whose subject matter comes from GENJI MONOGATARI 源氏物語 (The Tale of Genji). Either a single painting of a particular scene or a series of episodes in various formats such as handscrolls *emaki 絵巻, booklets *sasshibon 冊子本 or folding screens *byoubu 屏風. Pictorial motifs from the Tale of Genji were widely used to decorate craft works, including lacquerware and textiles. The Tale of Genji is a romantic novel set in Heian and its environs sometime around the 10c that traces the private life of a noble, Hikaru Genji 光源氏, and his progeny. The original holograph of the story, believed to have been written around 1010 by a court lady called *Murasaki Shikibu 紫式部, is no longer extant. The text accepted as the most complete is the Kamakura period Aobyoushibon 青表紙本 (Blue-covered book) written out by Fujiwara no Teika 藤原定家 (1162-1241). By Teika's time the novel's present form of 54 titled chapters was set (see list). The tale has been not only the most quoted piece of Japanese literature but has also served as an inexhaustible source of inspiration for pictorial artists from soon after its completion. The earliest written record of a Genji painting is in CHOUSHUUKI 長秋記, the diary of Minamoto no Morotoki 源師時, which reports in a brief entry for 1119 that paper for genji-e was ordered for a consort of the retired Emperor Shirakawa 白河 (1053-1129). This may refer to the earliest extant and most famous work, the Illustrated Handscroll Tale of Genji Genji monogatari emaki 源氏物語絵巻 (produced around 1120-40 ; Tokugawa 徳川 and Gotou 五島 Museums, and Tokyo National Museum). Scholars believe that between one and three episodes were chosen from each of the 54 chapters to be illustrated, preceded by the complete corresponding passages from the text, to form a set of ten to twelve handscrolls consisting of about 80 to 90 scenes. Today only 19 paintings and their nearly complete texts, one painting fragment (Tokyo National Museum), and about twelve calligraphy fragments remain (see chart). The text passages, although incomplete, are in fact the earliest extant version of the tale. The calligraphy for the text passages, written on exquisitely decorated paper, can be attributed to five distinct hands. It seems likely that various chapters were assigned to five groups, each group supervised by a different noble who in turn enlisted an aristocratic calligrapher and commissioned a different court artist or atelier?. Speculation remains as to who was the organizer and/or patron of the whole project. The paintings are executed in the *tsukuri-e つくり絵 style using bright, opaque colors and such typical *yamato-e やまと絵 devices as *fukinuki yatai 吹抜屋台 (roofless buildings), for architecture, and hikime kagibana 引目鈎鼻 (literally slit eyes and hook noses), for the rendering of faces. Such techniques produced compositions with little movement but careful detail admirably suited to the psychological, introspective and lyrical qualities that mark both the selected episodes and the tale as a whole. Several literary records from the 13c refer to the production of Genji paintings. For example, GENJI-E CHINJOU 源氏絵陳情 (Imperial Library date?) records that Prince Munetaka 宗尊 (1243-74) ordered court ladies who were amateur painters to reproduce Genji painting on folding screens based on a Genji handscroll made in the early 12c. However, only two extant examples of genji-e from the Kamakura period are known.The first consists of five illustrations in monochrome paintings *hakubyouga 白描画 from a booklet of Chapter 51 of the tale, known as Hakubyou e-iri Ukifunesoushi 白描絵入浮舟冊子 (mid-14c) which is held in Tenri 天理 Library, Nara. The second consists of several scenes from an illustrated Genji handscroll in color Genji monogatari emaki 源氏物語絵巻 (mid-14c), which is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. During the Heian and Kamakura periods, patrons and artists seem to have been well-versed in the Tale of Genji. When producing a new work they usually worked within the yamato-e format, but sometimes chose different episodes to illustrate, and freely employed new combinations of motifs and compositional layouts. The production of genji-e became more systematized in the 14-15c as demand grew and versions multiplied. Manuals were written to assist artists. The most well-known manual, entitled Genji monogatari ekotoba 源氏物語絵詞 (Osaka Women's College), is thought to be from the late 16c, although it is based on an earlier 15c text or texts, probably identical in form. This work describes illustrations for up to 15 scenes from each of the 54 chapters (284 scenes altogether) and accompanies each with text passages that emphasize particular motifs (e.g. seasonal references) and colors important for identifying that particular scene. Many small handscrolls, koe 小絵 in monochrome dating from the 16c still exist and are thought to have been made not by professional painters but by aristocratic women as part of their education or as a genteel pastime. In these examples only poems, waka 和歌 recited by the characters and a very short precis of the episode or scene are written out. Other Genji painting includes handscrolls of Genji Poetry Contests Genji uta-awase emaki 源氏歌合絵巻 in which 36 characters from the tale were divided into two groups, each rendered in an imaginary portrait and accompanied by a poem (see *utaawase-e 歌合絵). In the mid-15c, the artists of the Tosa school *Tosaha 土佐派, under aristocratic patronage, started to produce genji-e in a miniaturist style *saimitsuga 細密画 with extensive use of gilt and colors in small formats such as *shikishi 色紙 and fans *senmenga 扇面画. Most often one episode was chosen from each of the 54 chapters and bound together to make an album *gajou 画帖 or arranged and pasted on a pair of folding screens, harimaze byoubu 貼交屏風. Text passages in these works are usually brief, and sometimes included only the chapter titles. Tosa artists also decorated the covers *hyoushi 表紙 of manuscripts of the Tale of Genji in their distinctive style. Examples dating from the late 15c to early 16c include:  Fan paintings of The Tale of Genji on Screens Genji monogatari senmen harimaze byoubu 源氏物語扇面貼交屏風, Joudoji 浄土寺, Hyougo prefecture; and The Picture Contest cover-painting for Chapter 17, *E-awase 絵合 (Tenri 天理 Library, Nara). Tosa Mitsuyoshi 土佐光吉 (1539-1613) and his Mistunori 光則 (1583-1638) developed and established the formal elements of this miniaturist style. Representative works of each include: Tale of Genji Album Genji monogatari gajou 源氏物語画帖 (Kyoto National Museum) and Screens of Shikishi Genji paintings Shikishi harimaze byoubu 色紙貼交屏風 (Tokyo National Museum). Artists in other schools during the Momoyama and Edo periods developed different styles of Genji painting. Often later artists depicted a single scene from the Tale in a large format. Well-known examples include Tawaraya Soutatsu's 俵屋宗達 screen pair Sekiya Miotsukushi-zu byoubu 関屋澪標図屏風 (early 17c; Seikadou Bunko 静嘉堂文庫 Art Museum, Tokyo) and The Carriage Competition Kuruma arasoi-zu byoubu 車争図屏風 by Kanou Sanraku 狩野山楽 (1559-1635; Tokyo National Museum). Genji-e which appeared in a variety of small and large formats throughout the Edo period became progressively more stereotyped and stylized, culminating in *ukiyo-e 浮世絵 artists elaborating on earlier iconography and parodying the classic depictions in *mitate-e 見立絵. See the 54 individual chapter entries for more information. @ indicates an Episode included in the 12c example. A list of 54 chapters:
1. *Kiritsubo 桐壷 ("The Paulownia Court")
2. *Hahakigi 帚木 ("The Broom Tree")
3. *Utsusemi 空蝉 ("The Shell of the Locust")
4. *Yuugao 夕顔 ("Evening Faces")
5. *Wakamurasaki 若紫 ("Lavender")
6. *Suetsumuhana 末摘花 ("The Safflower")
7. *Momiji-no-ga 紅葉賀 ("An Autumn Excursion")
8. *Hana-no-en 花宴 ("The Festival of the Cherry Blossoms")
9. *Aoi 葵 ("Heartvine")
10. *Sakaki 賢木 ("The Sacred Tree")
11. *Hanachirusato 花散里 ("The Orange Blossoms")
12. *Suma 須磨 ("Suma")
13. *Akashi 明石 ("Akashi")
14. *Miotsukushi 澪標 ("Channel Buoys")
15. *Yomogiu 蓬生 ("The Wormwood Patch") @
16. *Sekiya 関屋 ("The Gatehouse") @
17. *E-awase 絵合 ("A Picture Contest")
18. *Matsukaze 松風 ("The Wind in the Pines")
19. *Usugumo 薄雲 ("A Rack of Cloud")
20. *Asagao 朝顔 ("The Morning Glory")
21. *Otome 乙女 ("The Maiden")
22. *Tamakazura 玉鬘 ("The Jeweled Chaplet")
23. *Hatsune 初音 ("The First Warbler")
24. *Kochou 胡蝶 ("Butterflies")
25. *Hotaru 蛍 ("Fireflies")
26. *Tokonatsu 常夏 ("Wild Carnations")
27. *Kagaribi 篝火 ("Flares")
28. *Nowaki 野分 ("The Typhoon")
29. *Miyuki 行幸 ("The Royal Outing")
30. *Fujibakama 藤袴 ("Purple Trousers")
31. *Makibashira 真木柱 ("The Cypress Pillar")
32. *Umegae 梅ヶ枝 ("The Branch of Plum")
33. *Fujinouraba 藤裏葉 ("Wisteria Leaves")
34. *Wakana 1 若菜 上 ("New Herbs 1")
35. *Wakana 2 若菜 下 ("New Herbs 2")
36. *Kashiwagi 柏木 ("The Oak Tree") @
37. *Yokobue 横笛 ("The Flute") @
38. *Suzumushi 鈴虫 ("The Bell Cricket") @
39. *Yuugiri 夕霧 ("Evening Mist") @
40. *Minori 御法 ("The Rites") @
41. *Maboroshi 幻 ("The Wizard")
42. *Niou no Miya 匂宮 ("His Perfumed Highness")
43. *Koubai 紅梅 ("The Rose Plum")
44. *Takekawa 竹河 ("Bamboo River") @
45. *Hashihime 橋姫 ("The Lady at the Bridge") @
46. *Shiigamoto 椎本 ("Beneath the Oak")
47. *Agemaki 総角 ("Trefoil Knots")
48. *Sawarabi 早蕨 ("Early Ferns") @
49. *Yadorigi 宿木 ("The Ivy") @
50. *Azumaya 東屋 ("The Eastern Cottage") @
51. *Ukifune 浮舟 ("A Boat Upon the Waters")
52. *Kagerou 蜻蛉 ("The Drake Fry")
53. *Tenarai 手習 ("At Writing Practice")
54. *Yume no ukihashi 夢の浮橋 ("The Floating Bridge of Dreams")
Siedensticker's English translations (1978).


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