Portrait of the poetess, Saigu no Nyogo Yoshiko

Artist: Attributed to Fujiwara no Nobuzane (1176?-1265?)
Calligrapher: Attributed to Fujiwara no Tameie 藤原為家 (1198-1275)
Historical period(s)
Kamakura period, 13th century
Ink and color on paper
H x W (image): 30.2 x 50.6 cm (11 7/8 x 19 15/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

Japan, kakemono, Kamakura period (1185 - 1333), poet, portrait, prince, princess
Provenance research underway.

Imperial princess Saigu no Nyogo (929-985), one of the few women among the Thirty-six Immortal Poets, is shown in this imaginary portrait reclining behind a curtain. Her face is barely visible among multilayered garments and her long, flowing hair. A lacquer box for writing equipment, decorated in gold, lies open on the ledge of the platform beneath her tatami.

A biography of the princess written in Chinese characters is followed by one of her poems in two lines of cursive hiragana:

With the sound of the koto
The wind in the pines of the mountain peak
Seems to communicate
With which note shall I begin?

Published References
  • Zaigai Nihon no Shiho [Japanese Art: Selections from Western Collections]. 10 vols., Tokyo, 1979 - 1980. vol. 2.
  • Zaigai hiho [(Japanese Paintings in Western Collections]. 3 vols., Tokyo. vol. 2., pt. 1, pl. 46.
  • Mori Toru. Kasen (Great Poets): Sanjuroku kasen-e [The Illustrated Paintings of Thirty-Six Poets]. Tokyo. pl. 9.
  • Mayuyama Junkichi. Japanese Art in the West. Tokyo. pl. 122.
  • Kanai Shuin. Toyo Gadai Soran [Dictionary of Subjects Used in Japanese Paintings]. 11 vols., Kyoto and Tokyo, 1941-1943. vol. 4: pl. 23.
  • Hirate Ku. Tai Shi kai zuroku [Record of Great Master Paintings in Various Collections]. Tokyo. pl. 28.
  • Rose Hempel. The Golden Age of Japan, 794-1192. New York. fig. 203.
  • Fujiwara no Nobuzane. Celebrated Poets of Ancient Times, By Nobuzane Fujiwara: (The Collection of Viscount Naonari Matsudaira). no. 137 Tokyo, February 1902. pl. 1.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 10, vol. 2: p. 154.
  • Minamoto Toyumune. Genji monogatari emaki ni tsuite [Concerning Geji Album]. no. 24. pp. 1-12.
  • Shirahata Yoshi. On Portrait Paintings of the Kamakura Period. no. 28 Tokyo, July 1953. p. 10.
  • Richard Storry. The Way of the Samurai. New York and London. p. 12.
  • Freer Gallery of Art. The Freer Gallery of Art of the Smithsonian Institution., 10th Printing. Washington. p. 16.
  • Fu Shen, Glenn D. Lowry, Ann Yonemura, Thomas Lawton. From Concept to Context: Approaches to Asian and Islamic Calligraphy. Exh. cat. Washington. cat. 23, pp. 74-75.
  • Tomoko Sakomura. Poetry as Image: The Visual Culture of Waka in Sixteenth-Century Japan. Japanese Visual Culture, vol. 16 Leiden, Netherlands. p. 83, fig. 40.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 98.
  • Penelope Mason, (Revised by) Donald Dinwiddie. History of Japanese Art., 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. p. 111, fig. 137.
  • Helen Honcoopová, Joshua Mostow, Makoto Yasuhara. A Book of Fans. Prague, Czech Republic, November 15, 2016. p. 144, fig. 31.
  • Sherman Lee. A History of Far Eastern Art. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1964. p. 333, fig. 437.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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