The Thirty-Six Poetic Immortals

Sakai Hōitsu Japanese

Not on view

The Thirty-Six Poetic Immortals are famous poets, including five women, featured in an anthology compiled by Fujiwara no Kintō (966–1041) in the early eleventh century. Throughout medieval times these celebrated figures—whose periods of activity ranged from the seventh century to Kintō’s day—were often depicted in hand-scroll format. Imaginary portraits of the poets were accompanied by one or more of their most famous poems, generally the ones originally selected by Kintō.

The painter and calligrapher Sakai Hōitsu notes in the colophon that this work was a tracing copy of a handscroll believed to have been illustrated and transcribed by celebrated medieval monk-poet Saigyō (1118–1190). Hōitsu did his best to emulate the precious poetry scroll, going so far as to mimic wormholes and other damage to the original.

The Thirty-Six Poetic Immortals, Sakai Hōitsu (Japanese, 1761–1828), Handscroll; ink and color on paper, Japan

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