Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji (1008, Genji monogatari) is commonly regarded as the highest achievement within the canon of Japanese literature and stands as a powerful icon of Japanese cultural identity. It holds the reputation of being a paragon of classical literature and can be said to symbolize a peak of Japanese cultural achievement in the premodern era. The Genji monogatari emaki (cs. 1140, illustrated handscrolls of The Tale of Genji), which represent the oldest surviving copy of the Genji text, have thus by association earned the status of a sacred relic to be enshrined and “resurrected” in order to preserve or renew a sense of national pride. Each painting in the Genji emaki was originally preceded by a kotobagaki, and each kotobagaki provided a framing narrative to contextualize and foreshadow the scene depicted in the painting (Dying in Two Dimensions: “Genji emaki” and the Wages of Depth Pereception). This gallery presents the picture scrolls and or artwork created based on The Tale of Genji to explore the life of the main character, Genji in the late Heian era and how the human forms achieve narrative through the stories within. The Tale of Genji is representational not only because but also because of its influences on the development of The Tale of Genji handscroll and many Japanese art later. The five handscrolls of The Tale of Genji represented in this collection are the narrative human forms from the life of the Prince Genji.
Emaki in this exhibition:
· Wisps of Cloud (Usugumo), Illustration to Chapter 19 of the “Tale of Genji”, Muromachi Period, 1392-1568, w17.9 x h24.1 cm, the nineteenth of a series of 54 painted album leaves mounted in an album with calligraphic excerpts; ink, color, and gold on paper, Harvard Art Museum.
· Kemari Scene from chapter 34 of The Tale of Genji, 1850-1855, Edo period, Ink and color on silk, Freer Gallery of Art.
· Two Scens of the Tale of Genji, 17th century, w345.2 x h140.8 cm, color on paper, Fukuoka Art Museum.
Woodblock Print in this exhibition:
· The Tale of Genji, 1868, Print; Ink on Paper, w252 x h365 mm, Museum Victoria Collections
· Genji Crossing the Oi River, 1862, Print; Ink of Paper, w254 x h370 mm, Museum Victoria CollectionsReferences:
· Stanley-Baker, Richard, Murakami, Fuminobu, and Tambling, Jeremy, eds. Reading the Tale of Genji : Its Picture Scrolls, Texts and Romance (1). Leiden, NL: Global Oriental, 2009. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 27 April 2016.
· Knapp, Bettina L. "Lady Murasaki Shikibu's the Tale of Genji: Search for the Mother."Symposium 46.1 (1992): 34. ProQuest. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.
· Watanabe, Masako. “Narrative Framing in the "tale of Genji Scroll": Interior Space in the Compartmentalized Emaki”. Artibus Asiae 58.1/2 (1998): 115–145. Web...
· Shumway, Larry. "Contextualizing The Tale Of Genji With Other Arts Of Its Period." Interdisciplinary Humanities 20.2 (2003): 44-56. Academic Search Main Edition. Web. 27 Apr. 2016.
· JACKSON, REGINALD. “Dying in Two Dimensions: "genji Emaki" and the Wages of Depth Perception”.Mechademia 7 (2012): 150–172. Web...