kotobagaki 詞書
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
The textual portion of an illustrated handscroll *emaki 絵巻. Emaki almost always incorporate text with the image, and the text often helps elucidate the illustrations for the viewer and is usually consciously matched with them. The text can be poetic, didactic, or simply explanatory. The styles and type of kotobagaki vary greatly among different emaki: some texts are lengthy and done independently from the painting, but most often the text alternates with the pictures in such a way that the story is read and then the painting appreciated as an illustration of the text. Short kotobagaki are sometimes included in the pictures as with conversations between figures, labels, or explanations included in the painting. Kotobagaki serve as important literary, social, and historical records. They are important for the calligraphic style in which they were executed as well as for the decorative background of the paper on which they are written. They also often serve as important clues in the dating of emaki. Kotobagaki are also valuable as literature in their own right. For many emaki, their text may be the earliest written record of a particular piece of literature as in the case of the illustrated handscroll of The Tale of Genji, Genji monogatari emaki 源氏物語絵巻 (early 12c; Tokugawa 徳川 Art Museum, Gotou 五島 Museum, and Tokyo National Museum) which is the earliest extant version of the tale, predating by one century the Kamakura period text in book form used today.


(C)2001 Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System. No reproduction or republication without written permission.