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Genji

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Utagawa Kunisada (aka Toyokuni III), Japanese, (1786–1864)
Tale of Genji: Ch. 12, Suma, 1852
Ink on Paper
24.5 cm x 17.5 cm (9 5/8 in. x 6 7/8 in.)


Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Creation Place: Asia, Japan
Credit Line: Purchase by the Aoki Endowment for Japanese Arts and Cultures
Accession Number: 2001.2.49


Marks
There is a text block printed in the upper right area of the print, with a signature in a red block. There are four seals in the lower right, and a signature in a yellow box printed in the lower left corner.

Medium
Colored ink woodblock print on off-white paper. Chuban tate-e.

Object Description
In this unusual image, Genji has momentarily stopped playing the koto (Japanese zither) to listen to the call of migrating geese. He raises his fan, and apparently unknowingly stops an assassination attempt by the figure shown pulling out a sword. This event is not described in the 11th century text of "The Tale of Genji" but may reflect a scene from a 19th century kabuki play about Genji where dramatic and fantastic moments were added to the original storyline to capture the audience's attention. Genji had been exiled to Suma for having an affair with a woman promised to the Emperor, and thus he considered his life in danger while living outside the capital city.

Publisher
Sanoki.

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