Sugawara no Michizane Composing a Poem About the Moon and Plum Blossoms
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Sugawara no Michizane Composing a Poem About the Moon and Plum Blossoms, 1886
Ink on Paper
12 15/16 in. x 8 3/4 in. (328.61 mm x 222.25 mm)
Description on verso of mat.
On mat, in pencil: Marer 390. Artist's seal: Taiso. Description on verso of mat. Signed: Yoshitoshi. Carver: Horiko Yamamoto.
Colored ink woodblock on paper; oban.
Meiji period Japanese color woodblock print with an image of a child writing. When only eleven years old, Sugawara no Michizane (845-903) composed his first poem in classical Chinese, which is recorded here in the cartouche:
tsuki kagayakite seisetsu no gotoshi
baika wa shusei ni niru
awaremubeshi kinkyo tenzu
teijo gyokubo no kaori
The moon shines like white snow.
Plum flowers are like stars in the sky.
The moon, a golden mirror, turns.
Fragrance fills the house and garden.
transl. by Roger Keyes
The plum blossom was Michizane's favorite flower, and he would often write about its fragile petals and delicate fragrance. Here the artist has rendered the gnarled plum tree trunk in strong calligraphic strokes, which suggest the powerful brushwork for which Michizane would become famous.
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