Past Exhibitions

Dyed and Woven Motifs — Wearing Costumes of Classical Literature
January 2, 2020 - February 2, 2020

Japanese waka poetry, Chinese kanshi verse, and literary tales monogatari were part of the basic education of the Japanese people. It was expected that one would memorize the famous waka poems from the Kokin Wakashū ("Collection of Japanese Poems of Ancient and Modern Times," ca. 905) or sections from The Tale of Genji (11th c.), the world's first novel.

This knowledge was essential in order to appreciate the motifs found on works of art, such textiles. It was understood that one needed to be well versed in the classics to understand their references. Without the familiarity, one would not have been able to decipher the hidden meanings behind a certain object, and a motif actually hinting at a certain classical scene, may have looked just like an ordinary landscape. This section features exemplary works with designs that pictorialize, allude, or reference to specific scenes from the poetic world of famous Japanese literature.

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