honey suckle

honey suckle

10.8.14

PINK IN THE TALE OF GENJI

The chapter 26 of the Tale of Genji is named 'Pink' (Dianthus superbus) which comes from the word in a 31‐syllable Japanese poem (tanka) in this chapter.

撫子のとこなつかしき色を見ば もとの垣根を人や尋ねむ
(Prince Genji wrote and sent a tanka to Tamakazura "If your father meet you who is so beautiful as pink, he will miss your mother Yuu-gao and ask you where she is now.")



Beauty, modesty and a gentle disposition—a girl with these qualities is the ideal Japanese woman and is called 'Yamato Nadeshiko', which means 'Japanese Pink'.

We have a kakejiku (hanging scroll) of pink, and hang it up in summer.  Pink is a representative flower of summer, and is also called 'tokonatsu' (常夏 perpetual summer).

A drawing of pink flowers on a hanging scroll.  


A hanging scroll at a tokonoma (an alcove of the traditional Japanese room where a flower arrangement, an art object and a hanging scroll of picture/calligraphy are displayed.  

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The wood-cut print of this chapter is another favorite.  The story of this chapters is summarized as follows.  (July of Prince Genji's 36th year)

The picture shows Kumoi-no-kari taking a nap, and her father looking at her.  
     On a hot summer day, Prince Genji came out to the eastern waterside building.  Together with court nobles and the sons of the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal (a rival of Prince Genji), he ate fresh-water trout and took iced water.  He happened to refer to Ima-Himegimi, a stupid girl who was under the care of the Lord Keeper.  The sons of the Lord Keeper felt ashamed.

     Toward evening, Prince Genji paid a call to Tamakazura, and performed for her the thirteen-sringed Japanese harp.  Bowing her head, she listened intently.  Under the light, she looked so pretty.  Prince Genji had ardent love stirred up in his bosom.  Prince Genji approached her so close as to touch her, under the excuse that he was going to teaxh ger how to play the harp.  To this shocking familiarity of his, Tamakazura had already accustomed herself.

     The sons of the Lord Keeper went home, and told their father that Prince Genji had spoken ill of Ima-Himegimi.  The Lord Keeper seemed displeased at that, saying that Prince Genji's foster-daughter, Tamakazura (a daughter of the late Yuu-gao), was no admirable girl either.  After this, the Lord Keeper went to see how his daughter, Kumoi-no-kari, was getting along.  She was taking a nap in her room.  Through her thin summer dress, her fine skin could be seen.  With a folding fan in her hand, she was lying resting her head on her arm.  Her black hair was not too long and had a a delicacy in itself.  The Lord Keeper clicked his folding fan.  She awoke at the sound, and directed her enraptured eyes upward.  her face which had blushed with shame seemed beautiful to her father.  The Lord Keeper suggested that it was bad manners for a girl to take a nap with her skin visible to others.

     Then, the Lord Keeper made his way to the Northern Building to see Ima-Himegimi.  She was playing backgammon with her maid, Gosechi-no-Kimi.  She spoke too quickly, and that loudly, even of the privy.   At her vulgarity, the Lord Keeper was shocked.  But in his heart, he thought she was innocent and that this innocence of hers might be her charm....


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