Yokoi Kinkoku, Orchid Pavilion Poem Competition, a hanging scroll painting

Edo period, AD 1815

The story of a drinking game from ancient China

In an event famous in Chinese history, Wang Xizhi, a highly respected calligrapher, invited forty-one men of letters to a purification ceremony at his retreat Lanting (Orchid Pavilion) on Mt. Huji in Chekiang province. The ceremony took place on the third day of the third month (Peach Festival day), AD 353, during the Eastern Jin dynasty (317-420). For amusement, cups of wine were set afloat on the stream, and each man had to compose a poem before the cup reached him, or else he had to drink the contents. Depicted here is an amusing scene of the scholars composing furiously beneath the plum blossom.

Yokoi Kinkoku (1761-1832) was a versatile artist - painter, poet, sculptor, seal engraver, potter - in the true bunjin (literati) tradition. He was born in ōtsu, but became a wandering artist-ascetic. He was a pupil of Yosa Buson (1716-84), who is known to have painted a screen with this same subject.

The inscription reads 'Shishi hōin; Kinkoku utsusu' ('Painted by Kinkoku, of hōin rank granted by the court') and the seals beneath it 'Kinkoku' and 'Bokuchi' ('Ink mania'). The other, larger seal is interesting - it reads in translation, 'I first aspired to learning at age 55', and was used on all his paintings after this age.

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More information


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


Height: 1083.000 mm
Width: 361.000 mm

Museum number

Asia JA JP ADD673 (1982.5-20.02)



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