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Print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi: Empress Jito, represented by Childs Gallery

Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Japanese (1797-1861)

Empress Jito, c.1841
Color woodblock

Two in the series ‘One Hundred Poems for One Hundred Poets.’ Signed on block left center: ‘Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga’; series and poem inscribed on block upper right. Publisher’s seal lower left: Ebisu-ya Shoshichi. A fine oban tate-e impression in fine condition aside from repaired wormholes in left margin, with no margin on top and bottom and full margins on left and right.

The series ‘One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets’ was compiled by the thirteenth century poet Fujiwara no Sadaie. Each of the poems are in tanka form, with five lines and thirty-one syllables, and they date from the seventh to the thirteenth century. This poem, by Empress Jito, reads ‘The spring has passed / And the summer come again; / For the silk-white robes, / So they say, are spread to dry / On the ‘Mount of Heaven’s Perfume.’ Empress Jito (645 – December 22, 702) was the 41st imperial ruler of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. She was the daughter of Emperor Tenji. She took the throne in 687 following the death of her husband, Emperor Temmu, who was also her uncle, in order to ensure the eventual succession of her grandson, Emperor Mommu. In 697 she abdicated in Mommu’s favor, but she continued to hold power as a cloistered ruler, which became a persistent trend in Japanese politics. She was also a noted poet.

Signature: signed on block
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