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Morning Glories

Suzuki Kiitsu Japanese
(and poem) by Kameda Bōsai Japanese

Not on view

A century later, when Rinpa re-emerged in Edo under Hōitsu and his pupil Kiitsu, the repertory of floral themes once again included blossoms with overt literary symbolism, such as the iris. However, screens and hanging scrolls made for purely decorative effect, such as Kiitsu’s Morning Glories, were becoming more prevalent. Kiitsu rendered the theme in brilliant color, as in his famous screen paintings, and, as here, in ink and light colors using the mottled-ink (tarashikomi) technique. This subtle but sensuous painting is accompanied by a poem in praise of the flower by the celebrated Confucian scholar, poet, painter, and calligraphy Kameda Bosai. It reads:

The small plant has a range of dark and light tones,
Its flowers only open in the morning sun.
Its form resembles tall grasses,
And its color is blue like a Buddha’s head.
It entwines itself in the trunks of tall trees
And extends over the edge of short trellises.
When it blooms in front of the weaving girl’s window,
In admiration she stops her shuttle.

—Trans. Patricia Fister

Morning Glories, Suzuki Kiitsu (Japanese, 1796–1858), Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper, Japan

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