Past Exhibitions

Illustrated Handscrolls with Literary Themes: Waka and Monogatari
June 14, 2016 - July 24, 2016

The waka is a classical 31-syllable Japanese poem with lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables. (The first three lines, 5-7-5, influenced the creation of the later poetic form of haiku.) Waka poems subtly express the seasons and the sensitivities of the human heart, and their imagery has inspired Japanese artists for centuries. This exhibition focuses on medieval and early modern handscrolls pertaining to waka and related prose narratives (monogatari). It includes scrolls of Tales of Ise (Ise monogatari), an early, poetry-filled prose collection; the Biography of the Priest Saigyō (Saigyō monogatari), which chronicles the life of the itinerant priest-poet; and later literary handscrolls. These works give us a sense of how Japanese artists visually expressed the language of Japanese poetry and narrative.

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