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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Title: Horses Brought Through a Ravine to Waiting Courtiers; scene from the Tale of Ise
Date: ca. early 1810s
Medium: Color woodblock print
Dimensions: 8 3/16 x 10 15/16 inches (20.8 x 27.8 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Joanna Haab Schoff, Class of 1955
Object Number: 2011.017.001
Label Text: Mitsu futatsu Two or three shadows
Tobu ka no kage ya Of mosquitoes flying—
Kyō no tsuki Before the moon tonight

—Kisamaro [Sanada Kikutsura]

This surimono was commissioned by the feudal lord of Matsushiro in Shinano (contemporary Nagano), Sanada Yukihiro Kikutsura (1740–1815, ruled 1752–1798, pen name Kisamaro), one of a number of such daimyō who participated actively in the world of haikai poetry.

In this early autumn work, a group of distinguished attendants bring three horses through a ravine towards the high-ranking courtiers waiting at the gate above. The difference in headgear marks the relative class status of these aristocratic figures. Considering the emphasis on the moon in the verse, it seems likely that these courtiers are off on a moon viewing expedition. Mosquitoes and horses are related ideas, making some connection between verse and image.

NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.