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Young Murasaki (Wakamurasaki) Chapter 5

Kunisada I (Toyokuni III), 1853, Wood cut
Young Murasaki (Wakamurasaki) Chapter 5
Young Murasaki (Wakamurasaki) Chapter 5
Young Murasaki (Wakamurasaki) Chapter 5
Library Item
Item no
Young Murasaki (Wakamurasaki) Chapter 5 from the series "A Modern Collection of Genji in Colour Prints" ("Ima Genji nishiki-e awase")
A child with a shaven head, dressed in a blue and white kimono, removes the basket lid of a wicker birdcage. The child holds up his arms in wonder as two birds escape through the open screen doors. Visible just outside of the room are branches with the young buds of spring blossoms.
Behind the child stands a young woman whose hair is dressed with ornamental hairpins and sections of red cloth. The woman holds a badminton paddle or 'hagoita' used in the New Year's game of 'hanetsuki'. The paddle is decorated with a yellow 'Genji-ko' design of incense sticks, used in Murasaki Shikibu's 'Tale of Genji' to identify each of the 54 chapters in the novel.
The woman is dressed in a flowing purple kimono. Murasaki was traditionally used to dye fabric a deep purple colour. Because 'murasaki' produced a dye whose intensity and richness of colour did not fade over time, this led to the use of 'murasaki' as a poetic metaphor for intense and long lasting love. Murasaki is the name used to refer to the heroine in the 'Tale of Genji' (Princess Fujitsubo's niece), who becomes Genji's life long partner. Murasaki is also the name posthumously given to the author of the 'Tale of Genji' whose real name went unrecorded. Murasaki Shikibu is a nickname and Shikibu refers to the official post of the author's father who served as Bureau of Ceremonial.
This image derives from the serial novel or 'gokan', 'A Fake Murasaki and a Rustic Genji' (Nise Murasaki Inaka Genji) written by Ryutei Tanehiko and illustrated by Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III), that was published between 1829-1842. This story reworks elements from the 'Tale of Genji' and transposes the action from the Heian period (794-1185) to the time of the Muromachi era's Onin Wars (1467-1477).
Artist / maker
Kunisada I (Toyokuni III)
27.9 x 19.8 cm
Art and Design Library
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