"Heartvine" ("Aoi") chapter from The Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari)


Not on view

This scroll, with its engagingly childlike rendition of scenes from the ninth chapter of The Tale of Genji, is an example of a ko-e (“small pictures”) handscroll, a format popular among amateur painters, including court ladies, during the Muromachi period. Scenes executed in a simplified version of the classic hakubyō (white drawing) method of monochrome painting alternate with sections of text. The compositional device known as fukinuki-yatai, or “blown-away roof,” permits viewers to peer into several rooms of Prince Genji’s residence at once. Genji’s wife Aoi has just given birth to his son Yūgiri, but she dies shortly thereafter, a victim of the jealous spirit of Genji’s former lover, the Rokujō lady.

"Heartvine" ("Aoi") chapter from The Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari), Handscroll; ink on paper, Japan

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