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Detached Segment of the Biography of the Priest-Poet Saigyo


Artist Illustration by Tawaraya Sotatsu, calligraphy by Karasumaru Mitsuhiro
Period Edo period, dated 1630
Materials and techniques Two hanging scrolls, colour on paper with calligraphy in black ink
Size Painting: 32.9×96.8, calligraphy: 32.7×96.8


“Story of Saigyo” is a biography of the priest Saigyo, which is in part fiction, and in part based on history. Saigyo, or Sato Norikiyo y his secular name, was a warrior serving Emperor Toba, but realizing the transience of all living things at the sudden death of a relative, Fujiwara Noriyasu, he entered priesthood and traveled around the country, composing verses along the way.
There are several extant scrolls illustrating the life of Saigyo dating from the Kamakura and Muromachi periods. This painting came from a scroll which was copied from another scroll drawn by Kaida Unemenosuke Sukeyasu in 1500.
This painting was produced in 1630 at the request of the nobleman, Karasumaru Mitsuhiro (1579-1638). He was a poet who learned waka poems from Hosokawa Yusai, and a calligrapher who learned from Hon’ami Koetsu.

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