Elegant strands of kana calligraphy in varying ink tones impart a sense of subtle rhythmic movement to this page of decorated paper. Printed in mica with impressed floral patterns and stylized peacocks, the paper was then further embellished with printed silver designs of pine branches, various other plants, and abstractly rendered birds in flight. The page was originally part of a set of personal poetry collections of thirty-six famous poets from ancient to Heian times, referred to as the Nishi-Honganji Edition of the Thirty-Six Poetic Immortals (Nishi-Honganji-bon Sanjūrokunin kashū).
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『西本願寺本 三十六人家集』の内 『伊勢集』断簡「石山切」
Title:Page from the Collection of Poems by Lady Ise (Ise shū)
Period:Heian period (794–1185)
Date:early 12th century
Medium:Page from a booklet mounted as a hanging scroll; ink on decorated paper
Dimensions:Image: 7 7/8 × 61 7/16 in. (20 × 156 cm) Overall with mounting: 54 5/16 × 16 3/4 in. (138 × 42.5 cm) Overall with knobs: 54 5/16 × 18 1/2 in. (138 × 47 cm)
Credit Line:Mary Griggs Burke Collection, Gift of the Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, 2015
The man came and stood at her gate. Hearing a cuckoo singing in a flowering orange tree, he composed the following verse and sent it in to the lady: Toni tateru ware ya kanashiki hototogisu hanatachibana no eda ni ite naku Standing at your gate forlorn am I as the mournful cuckoo that sings my sadness from his perch among the branches of your blossoming orange tree. To this she replied: Nanik.a ton kimi oba shiraji hototogisu kinagara nakuwa sagoniya wa aranu Hardly can he know what errand brings you here, the cuckoo in my tree— is it not his tuneful nature thus to come and sing? In addition to the two poems and short prose introductions on this fragment, a line at the extreme right reads: "irozo fukaku narinuru" (the color has deepened). These are the last words of the poem on the preceding sheet. The author of this poetic exchange is Ise no Go (ca. 877–940), a poet of the Fujiwara clan active in the Late Heian period and named one of the Thirty-six Immortal Poets, or Sanjūrokkasen, in the eleventh-century listing compiled by Fujiwara Kintō. Ise's unhappy love affairs as a young woman and her life at court in service to Empress Onshi, consort of Emperor Uda (r. 887–97), are briefly summarized in the introduction to her major poetic work, the lseshū, an anthology of approximately five hundred poems. Ise 's life was early shadowed by the death in infancy of the son she bore the emperor. She later married Uda's fourth son and gave birth to a daughter, Nakatsukasa, who also became one of the Thirty-six Immortals. Lady Ise's poems reflect the period of cultural transition in Japan at the beginning of the tenth century. After official ties with Tang China were severed in 894, Japanese literature began slowly to shed the ponderous influence of Chinese literary forms. Waka, an indigenous Japanese verse in thirty-one syllables, was developed during Ise's lifetime, and Ise herself is considered one of the pioneers of this literary form. Twenty-two of Lady Ise's poems are included in the Kokinshū (A Collection of Poems Ancient and Modern), completed about 905. The Burke page is a fragment from the lseshū, which was in turn included in the Sanjūrokuninshū (Collection of the Thirty-six Immortal Poets). It is embellished with floral patterns and peacocks, printed in mica and overlaid with printed silver designs of pine branches and birds. The delicate beauty of the sheet contrasts sharply with the robust calligraphy and designs that characterize the Tsurayukishū. One volume of that work is coupled with the volume to which this sheet belongs, the two together referred to as the lshiyama gire (see cat. no. 19). The small, elegant characters have a certain uniformity, but within each character is a subtle flourish that creates a sense of lively energy. Also attributed to this calligrapher, who remains unidentified, are the Tomonorishū and the Saigū no Nyōgoshū. Two additional pages from the same book are in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and in the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, respectively. [Miyeko Murase 2000, Bridge of Dreams]  Translations by Edwin A. Cranston and Fumiko Cranston in Rosenfield 1967, no. 37d.  Kinoshita Masao 1980, p. 18; Komatsu Shigemi ( 198 1b, vol. 2, pp. 78-83) attributes these three books to Fujiwara Kintō (966-1041).  Y. Shimizu and Rosenfield 1984, nos. I0, 11.
Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation , New York (until 2015; donated to MMA)
New York. Asia House Gallery. "The Arts of Medieval Japan: the Heian Period: 794-1185," October 5, 1967–December 17, 1967.
Cambridge. Fogg Museum, Harvard Art Museums. "The Arts of Medieval Japan: the Heian Period: 794-1185," January 17, 1968–February 25, 1968.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Japanese Art: Selections from the Mary and Jackson Burke Collection," November 7, 1975–January 4, 1976.
Seattle Art Museum. "Japanese Art: Selections from the Mary and Jackson Burke Collection," March 10–May 1, 1977.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "Japanese Art: Selections from the Mary and Jackson Burke Collection," June 1–July 17, 1977.
Tokyo National Museum. "Nihon bijutsu meihin ten: nyūyōku bāku korekushon," May 21, 1985–June 30, 1985.
Nagoya City Art Museum. "Nihon bijutsu meihin ten: nyūyōku bāku korekushon," August 17, 1985–September 23, 1985.
Atami. MOA Museum of Art. "Nihon bijutsu meihin ten: nyūyōku bāku korekushon," September 29, 1985–October 27, 1985.
Hamamatsu City Museum of Art. "Nihon bijutsu meihin ten: nyūyōku bāku korekushon," November 12, 1985–December 1, 1985.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Seasonal Pleasures in Japanese Art, Part II," May 1–September 8, 1996.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Japanese Art from The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," March 30–June 25, 2000.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Great Waves: Chinese Themes in the Arts of Korea and Japan II," March 22–September 21, 2003.
Museum of Fine Arts, Gifu. "Enduring Legacy of Japanese Art: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," July 5, 2005–August 19, 2005.
Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum. "Enduring Legacy of Japanese Art: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," October 4, 2005–December 11, 2005.
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum. "Enduring Legacy of Japanese Art: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," January 24, 2006–March 5, 2006.
Miho Museum. "Enduring Legacy of Japanese Art: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection," March 15, 2006–June 11, 2006.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Japan: A History of Style," March 8, 2021–April 24, 2022.
Tsuji Nobuo 辻惟雄, Mary Griggs Burke, Nihon Keizai Shinbunsha 日本経済新聞社, and Gifu-ken Bijutsukan 岐阜県美術館. Nyūyōku Bāku korekushon-ten: Nihon no bi sanzennen no kagayaki ニューヨーク・バーク・コレクション展 : 日本の美三千年の輝き(Enduring legacy of Japanese art: The Mary Griggs Burke collection). Exh. cat. [Tokyo]: Nihon Keizai Shinbunsha, 2005, cat. no. 13.
Murase, Miyeko, Il Kim, Shi-yee Liu, Gratia Williams Nakahashi, Stephanie Wada, Soyoung Lee, and David Sensabaugh. Art Through a Lifetime: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection. Vol. 1, Japanese Paintings, Printed Works, Calligraphy. [New York]: Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation, , p. 412, cat. no. 511.
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