Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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竹取物語
The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter

Period:
Edo period (1615–1868)
Date:
late 17th century
Culture:
Japan
Medium:
Hand-illustrated set of three volumes; ink, color, gold, and silver on paper
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
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 223
In the classical narrative depicted here, a baby found in a glowing bamboo stalk by an old bamboo cutter grows to be a woman of unearthly beauty. Unwilling to marry, Kaguya-hime (The Shining Princess) sets her suitors tasks they are unable to fulfill. The emperor desires her, but she reveals that she is from the moon and will soon return there. Although the emperor sends soldiers to guard her, a retinue from the moon arrives and ascends to the moon with her.

The lacquer storage box for these three volumes is decorated with a maki-e (“sprinkled picture”) design of a bamboo grove, two birds, and the crest of the Tokugawa family.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Japanese Textiles," 1991.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Seasonal Pleasures in Japanese Art, Part II," May 1, 1996–September 8, 1996.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "No Ordinary Mortals: The Human Figure in Japanese Art," 2007–2008.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Ukiyo-e Artists' Responses to Romantic Legends of Two Brothers: Narihira and Yukihira," March 27, 2008–June 8, 2008.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Storytelling in Japanese Art," November 19, 2011–May 6, 2012.

Detroit Institute of Arts. "Samurai: Beyond the Sword," March 9, 2014–June 1, 2014.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Japanese Bamboo Art: The Abbey Collection," June 13, 2017–February 4, 2018.

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