Eight Views from The Tale of Genji

Ishiyama Moroka Japanese

Edo period (1615–1868)

Not on view

Episodes from eight chapters of the classic of literature, The Tale of Genji, are depicted, although not in chronological order, in this handscroll. Each composition is combined with motifs from a scene derived from the venerable Chinese painting theme known as “Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers.” “Eight Views” imagery, introduced to Japan during the thirteenth century, was assimilated into the Japanese ink landscape painting tradition. During the Edo period, some artists incorporated aspects of the theme into Genji illustrations.

Moroka was a courtier as well as a painter and poet; his artistic training came from the Kyoto branch of the Kano school. In this early work, he restricted narrative elements to the far right side of each scene, allowing greater space for mist and abbreviated landscape elements set in otherwise empty silk. His handscroll may be the earliest extant example of Genji “Eight Views” painting.

Eight Views from The Tale of Genji, Ishiyama Moroka (Japanese, 1669–1734), Handscroll; ink, color, and gold on silk, Japan

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