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“The Transverse Flute” (Yokobue)

Tosa Mitsuyoshi Japanese
Calligrapher: Asukai Masatsune Japanese

Not on view

The album to which these leaves originally belonged is highly valued for Tosa Mitsuyoshi’s artistry and the calligraphy by eighteen noblemen on uniquely decorated papers with gold and silver and stenciled designs. Ishikawa Tadafusa (1582–1650), a daimyo in service to the Tokugawa shoguns, commissioned the work. Its overall opulence and scenes of an idyllic Rokujō estate and childbirth made it appropriate for inclusion in a bridal trousseau.

Here, the ghost of Kashiwagi hovers over his friend, Genji’s son Yūgiri, who is fast asleep. Intricate gold patterns depict the surface of Kashiwagi’s robes, and the lightest shades of gray of the head, hair, and courtier’s hat convey his ethereal quality. Kashiwagi informs Yūgiri in a dream that the transverse flute at Yūgiri’s side rightfully belongs to Kashiwagi’s son, Kaoru.

“The Transverse Flute” (Yokobue), Tosa Mitsuyoshi (Japanese, 1539–1613), From an album of eighty paired paintings and calligraphic texts; ink, color, and gold on paper, Japan

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