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Folding Screen with Scenes from the Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari)
43 3/4 x 109 1/4 in. (111.1 x 277.5 cm)
Medium and Support:
Watercolor and ink with silver and gold leaf
Marion Stratton Gould Fund
Location: Not currently on view
Byobu, or folding screens, seem to have originated in China during the Han dynasty (206 BCE - 221 CE). Imported into Japan, they became an indispensable element in interior design and an integral feature in the arrangements of domestic life.
The panels illustrate an episode from "The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari)," a monumental narrative which is among the most famous works of Japanese literature. Written at the beginning of the 11th century by Lady Murasaki Shikibu (978 - ca. 1016), the book describes the amorous adventures of Prince Genji. It also elucidates the importance of ceremony and aesthetic achievement in the sophisticated ambience of aristocratic life.
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