Komachi at Sekidera,
Ink on Paper
6 1/16 in. x 8 11/16 in. (15.4 cm x 22.07 cm)
Gift of Mrs. J. Stanley Johnson
Colored ink on paper; woodblock print. Printed with yellow, orange and green color; chuban tate-e.
Late 18th century Japanese color woodblock print of a young woman standing on a porch beside an iris pond, and a young boy drying tea on a brazier. Below is a poem attributed to Nishimura. Komachi is shown as an expensive 18th century courtesan, wrapped in elegant silk robes and beautifully coifed. She seems lost in thought as she gazes into the pond garden, and above her are written the words of a poem:
Wabinureba - In this forlorn state Mi o ukikusa no - I find this life dreary, indeed: Ne o taete - if a stream beckoned, Sasou mizu araba - I would gladly cut my roots Inamu to zo omou - and float away like duckweed. Kokinshu 938 transl. by Helen C. McCullough
This famous 9th c. poem was included in the 15th c. noh drama "Komachi at Sekidera" in which an older Komachi recalls how unfaithful had been her lovers and even her husband. The Buddhist moral of this play was to emphasize how transient are worldly alliances.
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