Hitomarozou 人麿像
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Also Hitomaruzou 人丸像. An imaginary portrait of the Nara period poet Kakinomoto no Hitomaro 柿本人麿, who is considered the greatest poet of the MAN'YOUSHUU 万葉集, the first major anthology of Japanese verse (last dated poem 759). A low-ranking member of the courts of Empress Jitou 持統 (r. 690-97) and Emperor Monmu 文武 (r. 697-707), by the mid-11c he came to be regarded as the patron saint of poets, uta no hijiri 歌聖. By this time, however, most readers could no longer decipher the archaic writing system of the MAN'YOUSHUU. Many of the favorite Hitomaro poems were later found to be spurious attributions. In 1118 Fujiwara no Akisue 藤原顕季 (1055-1123) instituted a ceremony of homage to Hitomaro, Hitomaro eigu 人麿影供, modelled after similar ceremonies in honor of Confucius and his disciples sekiten 釈奠 held at the Imperial academy daigakuryou 大学寮. The focal point of the ceremony was a portrait painting based on one commissioned by Fujiwara no Kanefusa 藤原兼房 (1003-69) to specifications he received in a vision of the poet during a dream. In terms of iconography, however, Kanefusa's image seems based on earlier Chinese paintings of the famous Tang poet Bai Juyi (Jp: Haku Kyoi 白居易, 772-846; also known as *Haku Rakuten 白楽天). A depiction of a Chinese gentleman or poet in this tradition is preserved in The Landscape Screen Senzui byoubu 山水屏風 (late 12c; formerly in Touji 東寺, now in Kyoto National Museum). Although there are many images of Hitomarozou --- some depicting him leaning on an armrest kyousoku 脇息, or those in the rocky grotto style iwayaryuu 岩屋流, or in Tang period costume --- the oldest tradition has an aged Hitomaro with a long dignified beard, dressed in a soft, unstarched outer robe noushi 直衣 with wide trousers gathered at the ankles sashinuki 指貫. This Heian period costume is given an air of antiquity by a floppy cap eboshi 烏帽子. In his left hand the poet holds some paper, in his right a brush, apparently in the midst of composing a poem. The earliest extant example of the orthodox image is contained in the Satake 佐竹 version of The Thirty-six Immortal Poets Handscroll Sanjuurokkasen emaki 三十六歌仙絵巻 (second quarter of the 13c), now divided up and dispersed; a portion showing Hitomarozou can be found in Idemitsu 出光 Museum of Art.


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