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Tale of the Shining Princess

Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
end of 17th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Hand-illustrated book set; ink, color, gold, and silver on paper; lacquer box with bamboo, bird, and Tokugawa crest design
Dimensions:
9 1/8 x 6 9/16 in. (23.2 x 16.7 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1921
Accession Number:
21.174.1a–c
  • Description

    The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter

    There once lived an old bamboo cutter. One day, he spotted a light shining inside a hollow bamboo stem and discovered a lovely little girl, about three inches tall. Raised by the old man and his wife, the girl, Kaguyahime (Shining Princess), grew up quickly and attracted five suitors. Unwilling to marry, she set impossible tasks for them, and they made invariably futile attempts to win her hand. Before long, the emperor himself sought her favor. Knowing that she would be unable to refuse him, she vanished into a pool of light, revealing herself to be a supernatural being. Unlike the other suitors, the emperor did succeed in winning her heart, but she sadly explained that she had come from the moon, and it would not be long before other moon beings descended from the skies to take her home. The emperor sent his military to protect Kaguyahime, but they were unable to stop her ascent. Before departing, Kaguyahime gave the emperor an elixir, which he offered to the immortal mountain, Mount Fuji.

  • See also
    What
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    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
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