Artist: Utagawa Kunisada
Title: Chapter 25 Wakana-no-ge
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Robyn Buntin of Honolulu
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This diptych is from a series "Genji gosh� yoj�" ( Lasting Impressions of a Late Genji Collection) consisting of 38 diptychs and 1 single sheet in the �ban format. The series was published from about the end of 1857 until the 6th month of 1861, or even later, but not in a numerical order. Each diptych presents a full-length figure clad in gorgeously decorated robes standing or sitting against a white background with sprinkled gold and silver dust. The motifs are faithful reproductions in colour of the black-and-white illustrations of the novel "Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji", written by Ry�tei Tanehiko and illustrated by Kunisada published in 1829-42, a parody of Lady Murasaki Shikibu's classic "Tale of Genji." Tanehiko's version of Genji was written in less formal Japanese, and the plot revolves around the hero, named Mitsuuji, who is in search for stolen heirlooms belonging to the Ashikaga family. The work was a runaway best-seller, prompting a boom in �Genji' publications, plays, fashions and other paraphernalia, all featuring Mitsuuji (the character based on Prince Genji of the original novel) with his trademark �lobster-tail' topknot. Because of the enormous popularity of Tanehiko's new version, single print series were produced in large numbers in order to satisfy the demand of the growing audience. "Genji gosh� yoj�" is a particularly luxurious edition, as each chapter of the tale is represented on a diptych and various complex printing techniques such as blind printing, printing with gold and silver, as well as brilliant colour are applied. The prints in this particular set were kept in an album protected by kiri wood covers, so the colors have remained bright and beautiful. Wakana-no-ge is Chapter 35 in the original "Tale of Genji". Timothy Clark, British Museum curator's notes. Gallery of NSW, Asian Art Department notes. Andreas Marks, The Clark Center for Japanese Art and Culture.