Six-panel folding screen; ink, color, gold, silver, and gold leaf on paper
Image: 60 1/16 x 140 in. (152.6 x 355.6 cm)
Purchase, Mary Livingston Griggs and Marry Griggs Burke Foundation Gift, 1967
Not on view
A full moon, once silver but now blackened by age, appears on an unobstructed horizon between a background of golden clouds and a foreground frieze of grasses and autumnal wildflowers: yellow maidenflower, blue and white Chinese bellflower, purple agrimony, and wild chrysanthemum. A queue of descending geese (perhaps a later addition) at upper right conveys the vastness of the grassy plain. These pictorial motifs are associated with the once-wild plain of Musashi, now a densely populated area of North Tokyo. Since the tenth century, Musashi has usually been associated with autumn. The tradition underlying this image began in a poem by Minamoto no Michikata (1189–1238):
Musashino wa tsuki no irubeki mine mo nashi obana ga sue ni kakaru shirakumo
The plains of Musashi have no mountain peaks into which the moon can slip, as white clouds enshroud spears of plume grasses. —Trans. John T. Carpenter
Inscription: Musashino wa tsuki no irubeki mine mo nashi kusa yori idete kusa ni koso ire
On the Musashi plain there is no peak for the moon to enter, from grasses it rises and into grasses it sets.
Translation from Kren Brock, Autumn Grasses and Water: Motifs in Japanese Art (New York: Japan Society, 1983)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Seasonal Pleasures in Japanese Art (Part One)," October 12, 1995–April 28, 1996.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Resonant Image: Tradition in Japanese Art (Part One)," 1997–98.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art in Early Japan," 1999–2000.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Sensitivity to the Seasons: Autumn and Winter," June 22, 2006–September 10, 2006.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Sensitivity to the Seasons: Summer and Autumn in Japanese Art," June 24, 2011–October 23, 2011.