‘Sekiya’ and ‘Miotsukushi’ from The Tale of Genji, by Tawaraya Sōtatsu

'Sekiya' and 'Miotsukushi' from The Tale of Genji, by Tawaraya Sōtatsu

Sekiya (right screen)
Miotsukushi (left screen)

The Tale of Genji, written by the court lady Murasaki Shikibu (973? -1014) in the Heian period, was read by the wealthy citizens in the Edo period as one of the cultures to be acquired. The increasing interest in the novel about the love, advancement, setbacks, and desires of Hikaru Genji, an aristocrat, prompted Tawaraya Sōtatsu (1570-1643) to paint the two works with the theme. It is one of his three works designated as the National Treasure.

In the chapter “Miotsukushi”, Hikaru Genji and Lady Akashi, a woman he once loved, happen to pass each other by chance. The two visited Sumiyoshi-taisha Shrine in Osaka at almost the same time, but they parted without seeing each other. Sōtatsu placed the nobleman and noblewoman on the diagonal line of the screen. He also lined up people along the line and bent pine branches. This composition expresses the relationship between Hikaru Genji and Lady Akashi.

Title: ‘Sekiya’ and ‘Miotsukushi’ from The Tale of Genji

Author: Tawaraya Sōtatsu

Year: 17th century

Size: 152.3×355.6cm

Own: Seikado Bunko Museum

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