Handscroll, light color on paper
Proportions: 36.8 x 522.5 cm
Kamakura Period (13th Century)
Important Cultural Property
Fifty-seven court nobles, including high officials, are depicted in two rows. The figures in the upper row face forward while those in the lower row face backward.
This scroll was once called Nenchu Gyoji Chakuza Zukan (a scroll showing the seating arrangement for annual events). However, this work is not the scene of any particular event, but a seated group portrait. From other portraits of high officials, kept by the Agency of the Imperial Household, we know that the figures in this scroll were all government officials. The scroll shows them in the order of their ranks, from with Fujiwara Tadamichi (the regent, chief advisor and prime minister), down to a substitute minister, appointed in 1252.
The scroll is said to have painted by Fujiwara Nobuzane. Considering the fine lined traditional portrait-painting style, the artist may very well have belonged to the portrait-painting school of Takanobu and Nobuzane.
A very curious feature in this work is the radish and turnip designs on the sokutai formal costumes. Were this an official portrait, courtly yusoku designs would have been more appropriate. The unusual costume motifs suggest that this scroll may have been made as a preliminary sketch for an official portrait.