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Imperial Visitation for the Ceremonial Horserace of 1024 (Komakurabe gyōkō emaki)

Unidentified artist

Not on view

This beautifully preserved scroll illustrates events from A Tale of Flowering Fortunes (Eiga monogatari, ca. 1092), which celebrates the Fujiwara family and Empress Shōshi, Murasaki Shikibu’s patron. This scene epitomizes the splendor of Heian court culture, as it depicts the luxurious shinden-zukuri-style residence of Shōshi’s brother, the Regent Fujiwara no Yorimichi. In the central building sit Shōshi’s two imperial sons: Emperor Go-Ichigo on a simple dais, largely hidden from view, and the elegant crown prince wearing a bright orange robe with a red phoenix pattern connoting his future sovereignty. Elaborate boats carry musicians in midperformance across the artificial lake, and clusters of white chrysanthemums and auspicious cranes and turtles along the shore suggest the longevity of the Fujiwara family.

Imperial Visitation for the Ceremonial Horserace of 1024 (Komakurabe gyōkō emaki), Unidentified artist, Handscroll; ink, colors, and gold on paper, Japan

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