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Print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi: The Monk Kisen, represented by Childs Gallery

Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Japanese (1797-1861)

The Monk Kisen, c.1841
Color woodblock

Eight in the series “One Hundred Poems for One Hundred Poets.” Signed on block lower center: “Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga”; series and poem inscribed on block upper right. Publisher’s seal lower right: Ebisu-ya Shoshichi. A fine oban tate-e impression in fine condition aside from repaired wormholes in right margin, with trimmed margin on bottom and full margins on all other sides.

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 the monk Kisen, reads “My lowly hut is / southeast from the capital. / Thus I choose to live. / And the world in which I live / men have named a ‘Mount of Gloom.'” The monk Kisen was living on Mount Uji. A book “Genko Shakusho” refers to a monk named Kisen who lived and studied Buddhism on Mount Uji, who took a secret medicine for longevity and was one day raised to the skies. He is regarded as the author of “Kisen shiki”, the book on poetics, and is known as one of the six poet laureates.

Signature: signed on block
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