- Museum number
Folding fan, painting. Yoshiwara dandy with attendant. One of a group of twenty-seven fans in a special storage box. Ink and light colour on paper. Inscribed, signed and sealed.
- Production date
Height: 18.20 centimetres (paper)
Width: 47 centimetres
- Curator's comments
mukashi wa kaku ya
katana no tsuka no
shiroto-e no sama
Yoshiwara of bygone days
perhaps once looked like this:
white hilts of samurai blades
with square sword guards,
as in my amateurish painting.
[signed] Kyôden gasan
The popular writer and poet Santô Kyôden, who was also a talented ukiyo-e artist under the name Kitao Masanobu, has created a simple fan painting of a samurai with a retainer. The wicker hat would have helped hide the face of the samurai when on the way to a rendezvous in the pleasure quarters. Kyôden has added his own kyôka (31-syllable verse) critiquing his own drawing. He suggests that in the past, Yoshiwara was frequented by samurai clients who donned a pair of ostentatious swords as status symbols (rarely were samurai in Edo ever called on to actually use them). Kyôden humbly suggests that his own drawing in an abbreviated sketch style is not of professional quality.
Characteristic of kyôka, the poem employs various examples of punning: kaku (in this way) in the opening line echoes kaku-tsuba (square sword guard with rounded corners) in the next. Katana no tsuka (hilt of a sword) is linked to shiro (which sounds like the word for ‘white’), and which also calls to mind the Shiratsuka-gumi (Shiratsuka gang), who were vassels of Shogun Ietsuna of the mid-seventeenth century. Rather than a reputation for military valour, they were best remembered for their flamboyant lifestyle and reputation as playboys of the pleasure quarters, as represented in Kabuki plays and popular literature. [As mentioned in the dictionary entry in Kojien] One of their trademark fashion statements was to have their sword hilts wrapped in white thread, as suggested by a alternative reading of the phrase katana no tsuka no shiro (white hilts of swords), and as seen in the image (John Carpenter, 9/06)
Folding fans painted and inscribed by artists and poets
These are taken from a group of twenty-seven fans kept in a special storage box, some dated variously between 1802 and 1841. An inscription on the box suggests that they are from a much larger collection of fans made from about 1821 onwards by one Ogawa Sanzaemon Sotoku, in the town of Tsu (in modern Mie Prefecture). The paintings and calligraphies are by many famous artists, poets and calligraphers and would have constituted an elegant autograph collection for the owner. Perhaps some were acquired by him directly from the artists and poets. (Label copy, TTC 2003)
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2012 Jun – Oct, BM Japanese Galleries ‘Japan from Prehistory to Present’
2010 Jun-Oct, BM Japanese Galleries, ‘Japan from prehistory to the present’
2006 Oct 13-2007 Feb 11, BM Japanese Galleries, 'Japan from prehistory to the present'
- Acquisition date
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Jap.Ptg.Add.1194 (Japanese Painting Additional Number)