鈴木春信画 虚無僧・「風俗四季歌仙 卯月」 A Flute-Playing Monk (Komusō); The Fourth Month (Uzuki), from the series Fashionable Poetic Immortals of the Four Seasons (Fūzoku shiki kasen)
Suzuki Harunobu (Japanese, 1725–1770)
Edo period (1615–1868)
Polychrome woodblock print; ink and color on paper
H. 11 in. (27.9 cm); W. 8 3/16 in. (20.8 cm)
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Bequest of Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, 1929
Not on view
Komusō were itinerant Zen Buddhist monks of the Fuke sect who traveled the countryside, covering their heads with oversize basketlike hats and playing bamboo flutes (shakuhachi). Here the young monk has caught the attention of young women, who ogle him from indoors. He turns to watch the flight of a cuckoo bird (hototogisu), a symbol of “the fourth month,” the beginning of summer, and fleeting love.
The anonymous poem is from the summer section of Seven Hundred Poems Compiled by Lord Shirakawa (Shirakawa-dono shichi-hyakushu, no. 136), compiled around 1265:
Hito mo toe saku ya uzuki no hana-zakari kōchō ni nitaru yado no kakine o
Let everyone know that now in the fourth month, the deutzia flowers in bloom resemble butterflies covering a hedge in the garden. —Trans. John T. Carpenter
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Signature: Suzuki Harunobu ga
Inscription: Poem by unknown author
Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer , New York (until d. 1929; bequeathed to MMA).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Celebrating the Arts of Japan: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," October 20, 2015–January 22, 2017.