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Illustrated manuscript scroll "Haseo Soshi Emaki" [trans.: "Narrative Picture Scroll of Haseo Soshi"], complete, emakimono, manuscript on paper, five paintings in color, five manuscript texts, top & bottom edges of scroll in gold, 38 x 1127 cm., brocade endpapers, in a fitted wooden box
No colophon: n.d. [ca. 1750]. An illustrated scroll of great quality of the famous story about Ki no Haseo (845-912), a courtier in the Early Heian Period. Written ca. 13th century, the oldest surviving scroll of this story - ca. 14th century, the Kamakura era - was preserved by the Hosokawa Family, formerly the ruler of the Kumamoto Fiefdom (today the Kumamoto Prefecture). The scroll rests now as an "Important Cultural Property" at the Eisei Bunko Museum in Tokyo. There are other scrolls of this celebrated story, some of which are incomplete or condensed versions, including those at the National Institute of Japanese Literature (Tokyo), the National Diet Library, Kyoto University, the Imperial Household Agency Library, Tokyo National Museum, and the Kyoto Prefectural Library. Our scroll illustrates the five scenes of this story:"1. One evening when Haseo was about to go to the Imperial Palace, he was visited by a stranger with shrewd eyes, who challenged him with a sugoroku (backgammon) game, saying that there was no other who could rival him in the game. Suspicious but tempted by curiosity, Haseo went out with the stranger, who took him to the Imperial gatehouse, Suzaku-mon. 2. The stranger helped Haseo up to the upper story of the gatehouse. Before beginning the game, he offered a 'girl of unearthly beauty' on bet, whereupon Haseo offered his entire property. As the game turned hopeless for the stranger, he betrayed himself as an awesome goblin, but Haseo at last won the game.3. Deep in the night of the promised day, the man brought to Haseo a beautiful young lady, telling him never to touch her within one hundred days. 4. Eighty days passed. Unable to resist the ever increasing charm of the girl, Haseo embraced her, whereupon she became water and flowed away. He repented, only in vain.5. About three months later, Haseo was going home in the night from the Imperial Palace, when the stranger came to his vehicle and blamed him for breaking the promise. Haseo barely escaped danger by his prayers to the god of Kitano Tenjin. The stranger was a goblin inhabiting the Suzaku Gate, who had created the girl by assembling beautiful parts of dead women. If she had been left untouched for one hundred days, she would have become a real human being."-Tanaka, Ichimatsu, Nihon emakimono zenshu. Japanese Scroll Paintings, Vol. 18, p. 3. "Pictorial representation of literary materials is one of the most important aspects of Japanese art, for in Japan, pictorial images have always been viewed as an indispensable means of communication. Emaki, the art of narrative painting in handscrolls, reached its peak from the twelfth to the fourteenth century, yet the large number of exciting and beautiful examples from later periods are ample testimony that this art never lost its creative energy, or patronage."-Murase, Miyeko, from the "Introduction" of Tales of Japan. Scrolls and Prints from The New York Public Library (1986). The production of luxury scrolls such as ours employed the finest illustrators and artists of the period. Provenance: stamp of the "Kuyo Bunko" library of the Waseda University scholar Koichi Nakano, a specialist in early Japanese literature. In fine condition. There are several small defects. The first text has two carefully repaired holes, slightly touching three characters. The first painting has two small holes carefully repaired. Hase's sword in the first painting has oxidized. The second text has a little dampstaining and defect touching one character. The fourth painting has a small defect well repaired. The example at the National Institute of Japanese Literature is closely related to our scroll. ❧ Komatsu, Shigemi, Nihon emaki taisei (1977), Vol. 11, pp. 74-89. Komatsu, Shigemi, Nihon no emaki (1994)-a facsimile of the earliest scroll of this story.
      [Bookseller: Jonathan A. Hill, Bookseller, Inc. ]
Last Found On: 2017-06-09           Check availability:      ABAA    

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