Exhibitions/ Art Object

“Fourth Month” from Fujiwara no Teika’s “Birds and Flowers of the Twelve Months”

Ogata Kenzan (Japanese, 1663–1743)
Edo period (1615–1868)
Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper
Image: 6 5/16 x 8 15/16 in. (16 x 22.7 cm) Overall with mounting: 43 1/4 x 19 in. (109.9 x 48.3 cm) Overall with knobs: 43 1/4 x 20 5/8 in. (109.9 x 52.4 cm)
Credit Line:
The Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, 1975
Accession Number:
Not on view
Kenzan, brother of the painter and designer Ogata Kŏrin (1658–1716), is best known as a potter but was also a gifted painter and calligrapher. This small painting was separated from a group of twelve representing plants and animals symbolic of the twelve months, each inscribed with two poems. The poems were taken from the Shǔigusŏ, a collection of verse by the influential poet and calligrapher Fujiwara Teika (1162–1241). The poems from the fourth month refer to unohana (deutzia flowers) and to the hototogisu, a bird related to the cuckoo. They read:

Shirotae no
koromo hosu chō
natsu no kite
kakine mo tawa ni
sakeru u no hana

Shinobu no sato ni
sato nare yo
mada u no hana no
tsuki matsu goro

Robes of white cloth
should be aired out, they say,
just when summer arrives
and deutzia flowers in bloom
cause the hedge to droop.

In the village of Shinobu
where the cuckoo dwells,
its cry is now heard,
while we await next month
when deutzia flowers bloom.
Marking: Seal: Tōzen
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