Parody of Palace Servants Heating Sake over a Fire of Maple Leaves

Okumura Masanobu Japanese

Not on view

In one scene of The Tale of the Heike, Emperor Takakura happens upon servants who have swept up maple leaves to make a fire to heat sake. The emperor remarks that they seem to be aware of a poem by the Tang poet Bo Juyi alluding to just such a scene. In this parody of the episode, one of the servants plays a three-stringed shamisen, which is anachronistic, since the instrument was not used in Japan until the seventeenth century. Beside the scene the artist has added a hokku (seventeen-syllable seasonal poem), perhaps of his own composition

Irozuku ya
momiji o takite
sake no kan

How colorful!
Burning crimson leaves
to heat rice wine

—Trans. John T. Carpenter

Parody of Palace Servants Heating Sake over a Fire of Maple Leaves, Okumura Masanobu (Japanese, 1686–1764), Red-colored woodblock print (benizuri-e); ink and color on paper, Japan

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