Virtuous Women for the Eight Views

(Kenjo hakkei, 賢女八景)

Publisher: Iba-ya Sensaburô

1842-1843

 

In eleventh century China, eight views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers developed as a formalized series of landscape paintings.  They represented views of the rivers and wetlands around Lake Dongting.  The same eight views–autumn moon, lingering snow, evening glow, vesper bells, returning boats, clearing weather, night rain and homing geese–are likened to virtuous women from Japanese history and legend in this series of prints.  These prints are each about 14 by 5 inches (36 by 13 centimeters), a size known as chûtanzakuban. 

 

View: Autumn moon on Saga Moor (...akizuki, ...秋月)

Virtuous woman: Kogô no Tsubon under a moon on the veranda of her home after being driven from the court

Robinson: S21.1

 

View: Lingering snow on Mount Yoshino (Yoshino-san bosetsu, 吉野山暮雪)

Virtuous woman: Shizuka-gozen trudging through the snow after her last farewell to Yoshitsune

Robinson: S21.2

 

View: Evening glow at Yashima (Yashima yusho, 夕照)

Virtuous woman: Tamamushi-no-mae watching Nasu no Yoichi’s arrow carry away the fan from the pole on her boat at the Battle of Yashima

Robinson: S21.3

 

View: Vesper bells at Ueno (Ueno no bansho, 上野晩鐘)

Virtuous woman: The poetess Shûshiki looking at the poem she attached to a cherry tree at Ueno

Robinson: S21.4

 

View: Returning boats at Tsukushi (Kihan, 帰帆)

Virtuous woman: Empress Jingô armed and wearing voluminous robes watching the return of her victorious fleet from Korea

Robinson: S21.5

 

Another state of the above design

 

View: Clearing weather at Mama (Seiran, 晴嵐)

Virtuous woman: The faithful wife of Mama walking by a hillside in autumn

Robinson: S21.6

 

View: Night rain at the hunting ground (Yu-u, 夕雨)

Virtuous woman: Tegoshi no Shôshô waiting in the rain to guide the Soga brothers to their revenge

Robinson: S21.7

 

Another state of the above design

 

View: Homing geese at Kanazawa (Rakugan, 落雁)

Virtuous woman: The poetess Chiyo turning to watch wild geese while sweeping up autumn leaves

Robinson: S21.8

 

Chiyo’s poem is translated by Robinson as:

 

Hatsu kari ya

narabete kiku wa

oshiimono.

 

O the first wild goose!

The chrysanthemums arranged–

Something has been stolen.

 

I am grateful to Ward Pieters for locating this alternate state of the above design.

 

 

Another state

“Robinson” refers to listing in Kuniyoshi: The Warrior-Prints by Basil William Robinson (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 1982) and its privately published supplement.

 

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