Suzuki Kiitsu, The Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry, a hanging scroll painting

Late Edo period, mid-19th century AD

The concept of the thirty-six great poets originated with the selection made by Fujiwara no Kintō for the Imperial anthology Kokin wakashū ('Japanese Poems From Ancient and Modern Times') of AD 905. Artists of the Rimpa school in Kyoto and, later, Edo (modern Tokyo) frequently grouped the poets of different time periods together in one composition, often on a two-fold screen. Here, however, all thirty-six are gathered together in a single hanging scroll. The poses of the figures largely copy earlier examples, as does the curtain at the top and the diagonally placed edging of a tatami mat.

The decorative quality of the work is heightened in several ways: the gold ground composed of scattered gold-leaf; the puddled-ink effect on the robes of eleven male poets achieved by the distinctively Rimpa technique of tarashi-komi, where gold paint has been dripped onto the still-wet black ink; and the striking chequered pattern on the robes of two men. All the male poets wear eboshi - the headgear of courtiers of the Heian period (794-1185). Four of these also have oikake, fan-shaped attachments made of horsehair (part of the court hunting costume), and three have arrows strapped to their backs.

The signature reads 'Seisei Kiitsu' and the seal reads 'Shukurinsai'. The form of the signature suggests a date late in Kiitsu's life (1796-1858), about 1850.

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More information


I. Hirayama and T. Kobayashi (eds.), Hiz┼Ź Nihon bijutsu taikan-2, vol. 3 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1993)


Height: 1580.000 mm
Width: 812.000 mm

Museum number

Asia JA JP ADD622 (1980.7-28.01)



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