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Sotoba Komachi Gravemarker Moon w/ Ono no Komachi

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Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (aka Yoshitoshi), Japanese, (1839–1892)
Sotoba Komachi Gravemarker Moon w/ Ono no Komachi, 1886
Ink on Paper
12 7/8 in. x 8 3/4 in. (327.03 mm x 222.25 mm)

Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Period: Meiji (Japan, 1869-1912)
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer
Accession Number: 97.1.17

Alternate Title: Tsuki hyakushi: Sotoba no tsuki
Full Title: One Hundred Aspects of the Moon: No. 25, One Hundred Aspects of the Moon: No. 25, Sotoba Komachi Gravemarker Moon w/ Ono no Komachi

Label on mat, with title (old hag at Adachi from "100 Moon" series) and price: $370.00. Signed; Yoshitoshi. Artist's seal: Yoshitoshi. Carver: Yamamoto to.

Colored ink woodblock on paper; oban.

Object Description
Beneath drying autumn grasses, the aged Komachi sits gazing at the moon. Ono no Komachi was a beautiful, intelligent woman and one of the most accomplished early court poets. As a young woman she was pursued by many suitors, most of whom she heartlessly rejected. In her old age she became destitute and wandered about the outskirts of Kyoto reflecting on the world and the vanity of life. In the Noh play Komachi and the Grave Marker (Sotoba komachi), the aged poetess sits down on a gravestone to rest. Two passing priests criticize her disrespect for the dead, but she refutes their doctrinal arguments:

     I too am a lowly buried timber
     But if at heart, I've still blossoms,
     Why should they not do for offerings?

Surprised that this beggarlike woman should be so intelligent and well read, the priests inquire her name, but the poetess cannot answer them for shame at her present state. She falls into a reverie and recalls her youth when she was being courted by one of her many suitors; when the memory passes she becomes calm again. Yoshitoshi's Komachi is dignified and still intelligent, alert, and beautiful in her old age. Her robe with its patches of different rich brocades is like the costume the protagonist wears in the Noh play.

Later she becomes possessed by the spirit of her unrequited lover Shii no Shosho, who pined to death for her, and she does a slow dance at the gravesite to his memory.

Akiyama Buemon.

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