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Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国)

Print: Parody of the 100 Poets: this is poem #88 (八十八番 - hachijūhachiban) -
An elegant woman before a kotsuzumi paired with a book opened
to a poem by Princess Shikishi (式子内親王)

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Dates: 1847,created
Dimensions: 10.0 in,14.25 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print
Inscription:

Signed: Kōchōrō Toyokuni ga
香蝶楼国貞画
Publisher: Sanoya Kihei
Marks 446 - seal 25-210
Censors' seals: Hama and Kinugasa

Related links: Tokyo Metropolitan Library; National Diet Library;

Physical description:

A beauty with drumsticks sits with a drum on a stand. Above and to the right, a book of the Hyakunin Isshu e-shō with a poem by and image of Princess Shikishi (式子内親王).

There is some kind of tenuous connection to the Tale of Genji as can be seen in the various Genji mon which run in a band across the top of this print. The plant appears to be the heartvine or aoi (葵) which corresponds to the 9th chapter in Royall Tyler's translation.

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Shikishi naishinnō (or Shokushi) was an "Early Kamakura waka poet [who died in 1201.] Daughter of Goshirakawa (r. 1155-1158) and at one time Kamo Shrine Priestess, she was at the center of much of the cultural life of the court. Although only 388 of her poems survive, their consistently high quality establish her as one of the first poets of her day. She was a gifted descriptive poet, especially in the yōembi style instituted by Fujiwara Teika. She was unexcelled in her time for her love poetry of intense passion, rarefied beauty, and rich allusiveness. She brought to new life the ancient and continuing poetry of the passionate woman, transforming or heightening it by indirection and descriptive symbolism. Given the brilliant realization of her poetry, it is not surprising that it was sometimes read as autobiography, and so, as with Ono no Komachi, legends of her arose. The best known concerns a love affair between her and Teika. They did share dedication to poetry of the highest quality. Her own often combine seasonal and love elements when writing on either topic, and she is one of the most skillful users of honkadori among all waka poets. What evidence exists shows that she was personally thoughtful, whether to a grand old poet like Fujiwara Shunzei, or to women in her service."

Quoted from: The Princeton Companion to Classical Japanese Literature by Miner, Odagiri and Morrell, 1985, p. 233.