Hashihime 橋姫
KEY WORD : art history / 1 paintings, 2 sculptures
1 A pictorial subject based on "The Lady at the Bridge" Hashihime, Chapter 45 of GENJI MONOGATARI 源氏物語 (The Tale of Genji). The last ten chapters of the Tale are known as UJI JUUJOU 宇治十帖 (The Ten Books of Uji). This chapter, the first of the ten, introduces the Eighth Prince Hachi no miya 八宮, a half-brother of Genji, and his two daughters, Ooigimi 大君 and Naka no kimi 中君, who live with him in his self-imposed retirement at Uji (south of Kyoto). The prince is known for his piety and wisdom. Kaoru 薫, whose serious character is engendered by deep misgivings about his paternity, begins to study under Hachi no miya. Eventually he learns from Ben no kimi 弁君, the daughter of *Kashiwagi's 柏木 wet nurse, that he is not in fact Genji's son, but rather the illegitimate son of Kashiwagi. The scene most frequently chosen for illustration shows Ooigimi playing a lute biwa 琵琶 and Naka no kimi a harp koto 琴 under the moon and clouds while Kaoru secretly peers in through a break in the villa's bamboo fence. This scene survives in a section of the earliest illustrated version (12c) in the Tokugawa 徳川 Art Museum. See *genji-e 源氏絵.

2 A noh mask *noumen 能面 representing a jealous woman who seeks revenge. Named after a lost play which literally translates as Bridge Princess, hashihime is heir to a complicated mix of oral and written traditions. The theme of a spurned woman haunting a bridge makes its appearance in such works as the poetry anthology KOKIN WAKASHUU 古今和歌集 (905/914). The version which seems to supply the basis for the mask relates how a woman, enraged by jealousy, goes to the Kibune Jinja 貴船神社 and petitions the gods to turn her into a demon so that she can have revenge. Her thick, furrowed brows cast a shadow over intense metallic eyes that stare straight ahead. The pale forehead gives way to dark reddish brown on the lower half of the face, symbolizing her extreme anger. Gold painted teeth are clearly visible in a grimacing mouth, and disordered strands of painted hair on forehead and cheeks heighten the impression of intense emotional turmoil. Worn by the protagonist, shite シテ, in the second act of KANAWA 鉄輪.


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