Kajita Hanko: Princess Nukata - Honolulu Museum of Art

Artist: Kajita Hanko

Title: Princess Nukata

Date: 1909

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Source: Honolulu Museum of Art
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This print was conserved with the support of the Robert F. Lange Foundation. Kajita Hanko was one of the key artists in the transition from traditional ukiyo-e to modern Japanese prints. He produced many kuchi-e, woodblock-printed illustrations inserted into the front of novels and magazines during the Meiji era (1868-1912). Beautiful women were frequently the subject matter for kuchi-e, just as they had been idealized as romantic reflections of the "floating world" in woodblock prints. This print could have been inspired by the kuchi-e tradition, as it portrays one of the greatest poetesses of Japanese antiquity, Princess Nukata (ca. 638-ca. 690), who was also famous for her beauty. Nukata was one of the first poets to introduce purely lyrical and aesthetic elements into Japanese poetry, as opposed to earlier verse that often emphasized religious themes. The print presents a scene from one of the love poems that the princess composed while she was longing for Emperor Tenji (626-671): As I wait for you longing moving the blinds of my house an autumn wind blows. (translation by Hiroaki Sato) The autumnal sadness of the poem perfectly exemplifies the traditional romantic ideal of a woman passively waiting for her lover's arrival, here connoted by the moving blind.

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