Sei Shonagon, 1832-1833
Ink on Paper
19 11/16 in. x 8 5/8 in. (500.06 mm x 219.08 mm)
On paper mounting, in pencil: Johnson IX 70, Holusai 'Legend of a Chinese Warrior'. Signed: Zen Hokusai Iitsu hitsu.
Colored ink on paper; kakemono. Nagaban, tatee.
Color woodblock print with an image of two men at a closed gate.
Sei-Sho-Nagon. (The Poetess Lady Sei, Sho-nagon being a title only, a famous Japanese writer, lived early in the eleventh century; No. 62 of the 'Hundred Poets' Anthology.) This scene illustrates her poem which is based on the Chinese story of Prince Tan Chu who, fleeing from his enemies, was shut up with his retainers in the town of Kankokkan, the gates of which were closed from sunset to cock-crow. A quick-witted retainer, however, climbed a tree and so successfully imitated the crowing of a cock that he started all the cocks in the neighborhood, whereat the guards, thinking daybreak had come, opened the gates and the Prince and his followers escaped under cover of darkness. The guards are shown opening the gates, while above is the man in the tree, whose crowing is answered by a cock perched on the roof of the prince's travelling palanquin. Lady Sei's poem is as follows: Too long to-night you've lingered here And though you imitate The crowing of a cock, 'twill nothingness Unlock the tollbar gate; Till daylight must you wait. (Porter.)
(Ref. Basil Stewart, "A Guide to Japanese Prints," 1979, p.119)
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