Tosa school, Ise monogatari ('Tales of Ise'), a set of 5 handscroll paintings

Edo period, late 17th century AD

The five handscrolls of this set alternate the text of the tenth-century classic, Ise monogatari ('Tales of Ise'), with richly detailed illustrations in the e-maki ('picture handscroll') tradition.

The Tales relate the amorous adventures of a young courtier, traditionally identified as the ninth-century poet Ariwara no Narihira. The scene shown here is from chapter 9, 'Azuma-kudari: Utsu-no-yama' ('Journey to the East: Mt. Utsu'). The travellers reach Mt. Utsu in Suruga Province, following a dark path overgrown with ivy and maple trees. They meet a monk who turns out to be an acquaintance, so Narihira writes a letter to be delivered to his wife back in the capital of Kyoto. In the original story this scene takes place in mid-summer, but here the artist emphasizes the loneliness of the travellers by placing them in a bleak winter landscape of snow and leafless trees.

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More information


L. Smith, V. Harris and T. Clark, Japanese art: masterpieces in (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)

I. Hirayama and T. Kobayashi (eds.), Hiz┼Ź Nihon bijutsu taikan-1, vol. 2 (Tokyo, Kodansha, 1992)


Height: 322.000 mm (each approx.)
Length: 14900.000 mm (scroll one)
Length: 14900.000 mm (scroll one)
Length: 14900.000 mm (scroll one)
Length: 14900.000 mm (scroll one)
Length: 14900.000 mm (scroll one)

Museum number

Asia JA JP ADD5-9 (1920.5-14.16 (1-5))


Gift of G.B. Dodwell


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