Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Competition Between Poets of Different Eras (Jidai fudō uta awase), depicting the poet Minamoto no Hitoshi

Calligrapher:
Calligraphy attributed to Fujiwara no Nobuzane (Japanese, 1176–1265)
Period:
Kamakura period (1185–1333)
Date:
13th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Section of a handscroll mounted as a hanging scroll; ink on paper
Dimensions:
Image: 11 3/4 x 7 1/2 in. (29.8 x 19.1 cm)
Overall: 57 1/2 x 17 7/8in. (146.1 x 45.4 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
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:
1975.268.34
Not on view
This hanging scroll illustrates part of an imaginary poetry competition among fifty poets from the past. The selection of poems from old anthologies and their arrangement into "competing" pairs is traditionally attributed to Emperor Gotoba (1180–1236), perhaps Japanese poetry's greatest patron. The Metropolitan's painting shows the sixty-first round, which pits Minamoto no Hitoshi (880–951) against the Lady Ichinomiya Kii (d. ca. 1113). The first of three poetry exchanges is recorded in a soft broad hand above a portrait of the male poet:
Why is it
that love persists
when deeply hidden, as
a field overgrown in bamboo grass
at midday?
Ichinomiya Kii replies:
The fields of bush clover at Mano
are tangled and tossed
in the autumn wind;
for the dew that clings to its blossoms
there is no repose.
The rest of this fictional exchange and the portrait of Ichinomiya Kii are on a separate hanging scroll now in a private collection in Japan. Several other segments from this version of the Jidaifudo utaawase exist, including one in the Tokyo National Museum. Simple ink portraits of famous poets paired with their most well known works were extremely popular in the Kamakura period. The portraits follow the conventions of their time: a person seated in a stylized three-quarter or profile view, with flattened robes emphasizing social ranking, and all individual expression reserved for the face. The playful figures in these scrolls are fanciful re-creations of cultural heroes and heroines, a unique group immortalized within the intimate lines of their poetry.
[ Harry G. C. Packard , Tokyo, until 1975; donated and sold to MMA].
Princeton University Art Museum. "Transformations in Japanese Painting," March 1, 1983–June 26, 1983.

New York. Japan Society Gallery. "Japanese Calligraphy from Western Collections," October 4, 1984–January 6, 1985.

Kansas City. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. "Japanese Calligraphy from Western Collections," February 15, 1985–March 31, 1985.

Seattle Art Museum. "Japanese Calligraphy from Western Collections," May 9, 1985–July 14, 1985.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Noh Robes," 1993.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "No Ordinary Mortals: The Human and Not-So-Human Figure in Japanese Art," 1996.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arts of Japan," 1998.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Poetry and Travel in Japanese Art," December 18, 2008–May 31, 2009.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Five Thousand Years of Japanese Art: Treasures from the Packard Collection," December 17, 2009–June 10, 2010.

Related Objects

Shrine Maiden-Shamaness Possessed by a Spirit, from Illustrated Legends of the Kitano Tenjin Shrine (Kitano Tenjin engi emaki)

Artist: Date: ca. 1300
Accession Number: 2015.300.16
Date: ca. 1300 Medium: Section of handscroll mounted as hanging scroll; ink on paper Accession: 2015.300.16 On view in:Gallery 223

Cicada on a Grapevine

Artist: Bokurin Guan (Japanese, active late 14th century) Date: late 14th century Medium: Hanging scroll; ink on paper Accession: 2015.300.58 On view in:Not on view

Three Poems from the “Later Collection of Japanese Poems” (Gosen wakashū), or “Shirakawa Fragment” (Shirakawa-gire)

Artist: Traditionally attributed to Monk Saigyō (Japanese, 1118–1190) Date: late 12th century Medium: Page from book, mounted as hanging scroll; ink on paper Accession: 2015.300.233 On view in:Not on view

Ten Verses on Oxherding

Artist: Date: 1278
Accession Number: 2015.300.10
Date: 1278 Medium: Handscroll; ink and color on paper Accession: 2015.300.10 On view in:Not on view

Portrait of Shun'oku Myōha

Artist: Unidentified Artist Japanese Date: ca. 1383 Medium: Hanging scroll; ink, color, and gold on silk Accession: 2007.329 On view in:Not on view