Portrait of the poetess, Saigu no Nyogo Yoshiko


Artist: Attributed to Fujiwara no Nobuzane (1176?-1265?)
Calligrapher: Attributed to Fujiwara no Tameie 藤原為家 (1198-1275)
Historical period(s)
Kamakura period, 13th century
Ink and color on paper
H x W (image): 30.2 x 50.6 cm (11 7/8 x 19 15/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

Japan, kakemono, Kamakura period (1185 - 1333), poet, portrait, prince, princess, WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Previous Owner(s)

Joseph U. Seo


Imperial princess Saigu no Nyogo (929-985), one of the few women among the Thirty-six Immortal Poets, is shown in this imaginary portrait reclining behind a curtain. Her face is barely visible among multilayered garments and her long, flowing hair. A lacquer box for writing equipment, decorated in gold, lies open on the ledge of the platform beneath her tatami.

A biography of the princess written in Chinese characters is followed by one of her poems in two lines of cursive hiragana:

With the sound of the koto
The wind in the pines of the mountain peak
Seems to communicate
With which note shall I begin?

Published References
  • Fu Shen, Glenn D. Lowry, Ann Yonemura, Thomas Lawton. From Concept to Context: Approaches to Asian and Islamic Calligraphy. Exh. cat. Washington. cat. 23, p. 74-75.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 10, p. 154.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 98.
  • Dr. Sherman Lee. A History of Far Eastern Art. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1964. p. 333, fig. 437.
  • Fujiwara no Nobuzane. Celebrated Poets of Ancient Times, By Nobuzane Fujiwara: (The Collection of Viscount Naonari Matsudaira). no. 137 Tokyo, February 1902. pl. 1.
  • Freer Gallery of Art. The Freer Gallery of Art of the Smithsonian Institution., 10th Printing. Washington. p. 16.
  • Rose Hempel. The Golden Age of Japan, 794-1192. New York. fig. 203.
  • Hirate Ku. Tai Shi kai zuroku (Record of Great Master Paintings in Various Collections). Tokyo. pl. 28.
  • Kanai Shuin. Toyo Gadai Soran (Dictionary of Subjects Used in Japanese Paintings). 11 vols., Kyoto and Tokyo, 1941-1943. pl. 23.
  • Penelope Mason revised by Donald Dinwiddie. History of Japanese Art., 2nd Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ. p. 111, fig. 137.
  • Mayuyama Junkichi. Japanese Art in the West. Tokyo. pl. 122.
  • Minamoto Toyumune. Genji monogatari emaki ni tsuite (Concerning Geji Album). no. 24. pp. 1-12.
  • Mori Toru. Kasen (Great Poets): Sanjuroku kasen-e (The Illustrated Paintings of Thirty-Six Poets). Tokyo. pl. 9.
  • Shirahata Yoshi. On Portrait Paintings of the Kamakura Period. no. 28 Tokyo, July 1953. p. 10.
  • Richard Storry. The Way of the Samurai. New York and London. p. 12.
  • Zaigai hiho (Japanese Paintings in Western Collections). 3 vols., Tokyo. pl. 46.
  • Zaigai Nihon no Shiho (Japanese Art : Selections from Western Collections). 10 vols., Tokyo, 1979 - 1980. .
  • p. 144, fig. 31.
  • p. 83, fig. 40.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum

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