Satake version of Sanju-roku Kasen Emaki (hand scrolls of the thirty-six immortal poets) (佐竹本三十六歌仙絵巻)

The Satake version of "Sanju-roku Kasen Emaki (hand scrolls of the thirty-six immortal poets)" were made in the 13th century, Kamakura Period. It is one of the most famous illustrated scroll of celebrated poets, or portraits made in the Kamakura Period. They were originally two-volume scrolls with portraits of 36 poets, 18 in each volume. In 1919, the scrolls were divided into sections of each poet and redecorated to hanging scrolls.

Summary

FUJIWARA no Kinto (966 –1041) edited a personal collection of poetry 'Sanjurokuninsen' (Thirty-six Master Poets Collection) in the early 11th century. This collection is in the form of a poetry competition of excellent poems by 36 poets from "Manyoshu" (the first major anthology of early Japanese poetry) to the mid-Heian Period, who were later called 'Sanju-roku Kasen' (the thirty-six immortal poets). Sanju-roku Kasen Emaki were hand scrolls consisting of portraits, famous poems, and biographies of the thirty-six poets. Each of Volume One and Two included 18 poets. Volume Two began with a landscape of Sumiyoshi Myojin (Sumiyoshitaisha Shrine) that enshrined the deity of Waka (Japanese poem), and it is assumed that Volume One also started with a landscape of Tamatsuhime Myojin or Kamomioya Shrine, although it has been lost.

Technique and size

Colored on paper. It was originally two volumes, but as described above, in 1919 Volume One was divided into 18 pieces and Volume Two into 19 pieces, and redecorated to 37 hanging scrolls in total. The height of a hanging scroll is about 36 cm, but the width varies from scroll to scroll, from 60 cm to 90 cm.

Painting style, author, date

Each poet's section started with writing the poet's rank and name in a row, and then his/her biography in several rows and a poem in two rows. These were followed by a portrait of the poet on the left of the sheet.
The poets included in Volumes One and Two were as follows:

Volume One: Hitomaro, Mitsune, Yakamochi, Narihira, Sosei, Sarumaru, Kanesuke, Atsutada, Kintada, Saigu, Toshiyuki, Muneyuki, Kiyotada, Okikaze, Korenori, Kodai no Kimi, Yoshinobu, Kanemori
Volume Two: (Sumiyoshi Myojin), Tsurayuki, Ise, Akahito, Henjo, Tomonori, Komachi, Asatada, Takamitsu, Tadamine, Yoritomo, Shigeyuki, Saneakira, Shitago, Motosuke, Motozane, Nakafumi, Tadami, Nakatsukasa
It was believed that portraits were drawn by FUJIWARA no Nobuzane (1176 - 1265) and texts were by Yoshitsune KUJO (1169 - 1206), but there is no evidence for it. It seemed that several people were involved in drawing portraits, and their painting style was that of a later period than the style employed in the portrait of the Emperor Gotoba (Minase-jingu Shrine collection, National Treasure) that is highly likely to be the work of Nobuzane. It is also pointed out that the handwriting style of the text is close to that of the first and second chapter of Volume Three of the Jokyu version of "Kitano Tenjin Emaki" (an illustrated history of Kitano shrine) (National Treasure) written in the early 13th century. Based on the study of painting and handwriting style described above as well as the tenseness in drawing of chest and sleeves of male poets, it is estimated that the Satake version hand scrolls were made in the mid-Kamakura Period in the 13th century. It is also noted that there are many errors and omissions in rank, name, and biography of poets in the Satake version.

The poets included in the hand scrolls were from the days of "Manyoshu" to the 10th century at the latest; their portraits were, therefore, idealized versions instead of realistic portraits of living people. In principle, such portraits should depict only the figure of a poet without any scenery or furnishings. The only exception is the portrait of the High priestess (Saigu) Kishi; she is sitting on a tatami mat with ugen-beri (a hem made of silk fabrics colored in one color with sequential layers from light to dark) with a folding screen at the back and a kicho (a curtained frame put up to screen royal personages or noble ladies from direct view of those around them) at the front to indicate her noble status. 36 portraits include 5 female and 31 male poets. Female poets are the High priestess Kishi, Kodai no Kimi, Ono no Komachi, Nakatsukasa, and Ise; among them, Kodai no Kimi, Ono no Komachi, and Nakatsukasa dress up in karaginu (a waist length Chinese style jacket) and mo (long pleated skirts), while Ise doesn't wear karaginu. Among these female poets, the High priestess discreetly hides her face with her sleeve. Ono no Komachi, who is known as a rare beauty, turns backward and doesn't show her face to leave it to the viewer's imagination.

Male poets include 18 in sokutai (traditional ceremonial court dress), 7 in noshi (everyday clothes for nobles), 2 in kariginu (informal clothes for court nobles), 2 in kachi-e (similar clothes to kariginu), and 2 in clothes for Buddhist priests. Among them, FUJIWARA no Okikaze and FUJIWARA no Asatada turn backwards while FUJIWARA no Nakafumi sits with one knee drawn up, in order to add a variety to rather monotonous series of portraits. It should be noted that the original portrait of OSHIKOCHI no Mitsune was lost and substituted with the one by Tanyu KANO in the Edo Period. Text by KI no Tsurayuki was also added at a later date.

The thirty-six immortal poets had been portrayed up to early-modern times in various formats such as gajo (an album of paintings) and framed pictures, and many of those were articles of the deceased. Satake version is one of the earliest extant examples of the illustrated handscroll of thirty-six immortal poets along with the Agedatami version, and therefore it is evaluated as a representative work of portraits in the Yamato-e style (classical Japanese style painting) in the Kamakura Period.

History

It is called 'Satake version' because it is a hereditary article in the family of Marquis Satake, a former lord of Akita Domain. According to "Kenkado Zatsuroku" by Osaka-based man of literature, Kenkado KIMURA (1736-1802), the Satake version was originally a hereditary article of the Shimogamo-jinja Shrine.

Division of the hand scrolls and change of owners

As described above, the hand scrolls were in the hands of the family of Marquis Satake. In 1917, the collection of the Satake family was put up for auction at the Tokyo Bijutsu Club in Ryogoku, Tokyo, and nine antique dealers in Tokyo and Kansai regions jointly bought the hand scrolls of the thirty-six immortal poets for 353,000 yen. Although a simple comparison is not accurate, it can be roughly estimated that ten-thousand yen at that time is equivalent to 100 million yen at today's price. Therefore it can be assumed that the hand scrolls were too expensive for one dealer to buy. In the same year, industrialist Tadasaburo YAMAMOTO (1873-1927) bought the hand scrolls. Yamamoto was the founder of a trade firm called Shosho Yoko to export lumber and import coal in China, and made a fortune in the shipping industry. He had a nickname 'Toradaijin' (Tiger Millionaire) because he went to the Korean Peninsula for tiger hunting, and he was a man full of heroic exploits and amusing anecdotes.

Due to the economic decline after World War I, Yamamoto was already required to give up the hand scrolls in 1919. In such a severe economic situation, however, no antique collector could buy such an expensive hand scroll by himself. Antique dealers such as Shichibe HATTORI and Kahee TSUCHIHASHI were looking for someone who could buy the hand scrolls, and visited Takashi MASUDA (pen name Donno), industrialist, renowned master of the tea ceremony and art collector, for consultation. Although Masuda was known as the leading collector of the time, he couldn't afford the hand scrolls by himself, so he decided to divide the hand scrolls into each poet's portrait to distribute. Masuda appointed industrialists/masters of the tea ceremony Yoshio TAKAHASHI (pen name Soan) and Kota NOZAKI (pen name Genan) as mediators, and a renowned art scholar known for reproduction of hand scrolls, Shinbi TANAKA, as an advisor. Masuda then divided the hand scrolls of 36 poets into 37 pictures (including the picture of Sumiyoshi Myojin Shrine at the top of Volume Two) and tried to distribute each separated picture to 37 renderers by lottery.

The lottery was held on December 20, 1919, at the Masuda's residence in Gotenyama (present-day Kitashinagawa, Shinagawa Ward), Tokyo. The building was called 'Okyokan' and later brought over to the Tokyo National Museum where the building still exists today. Masuda himself participated in the lottery, and it was decided that one of the pictures was given to its former owner Tadasaburo Yamamoto. Masuda aimed to obtain the picture of the 'High priestess' that was the most sought-after among 36 poets with the highest price of 40,000 yen. In the prevailing story, Masuda was allotted the least popular picture of a 'Buddhist priest' and was completely displeased. A participant who won the picture of the 'High priestess' offered to exchange it for the picture Masuda was allotted, and Masuda looked very satisfied with the picture of his dream. According to an article of Tokyo Asahi Shimbun on the day after the lottery, however, the picture Masuda was allotted first was the 'portrait of MINAMOTO no Shitago', not a picture of a priest; the details of what actually happened on the day of lottery remained unknown.

These 37 pieces were transferred from one owner to the other due to changes in the socioeconomic conditions and social turmoil after World War II, and many of the pictures were in collections of public or private museums. On November 3, 1984, NHK broadcast a documentary program entitled 'Emaki Setsudan' (Divided Handscroll) on how the hand scrolls of the thirty-six immortal poets were divided into pieces and their vicissitudes, and related books were published, resulting in further attention to this subject. In 1986, the Suntory Museum of Art that was in Akasaka, Tokyo, at the time held 'An Exhibition Commemorating the 25th Anniversary - Portraits of the Thirty-six Immortal Poets' in which 20 out of 37 pieces of Satake version were exhibited.

List of pieces of Satake version of "Sanju-roku Kasen Emaki"

Information about owners in 1919 is based on "Hiho Sanju-roku Kasen no Ruten: Emaki Setsudan" in References.