Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳) (artist 01/01/1797 – 04/14/1861)
A bijin crossing a small wooden bridge representing the Girl's Festival (女月) from the series The Five Festivals (Go sekku - 五節句) - also the Tanabata Festival (七夕)
1843 – 1846
9.75 in x 14 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese color woodblock print
Signed: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
Publisher: Maruya Seijirō (Marks 299 - seal 27-010)
Censor's seal: Muramatsu
Text by: Ryūkatei Tanekazu (柳下亭種員)
Kumon Museum of Children's Ukiyo-e - with explanatory notes
Lyon Collection - another copy of this print There is another Kuniyoshi print from ca. 1836 of this same theme and general layout. That one, however, shows a woman accompanied by a child. Whereas, we thought that this print in the Lyon Collection showed a woman on a bridge, it turns out, according to Iwakiri and Newland, in their catalogue Kuniyoshi: Japanese master of imagined worlds on page 92, that this is most likely a viewing platform.
They wrote of that print: "Mulberry leaf, brush and watermelon shapes decorated bamboo grass (seen in the background...). A woman and child stand on a rooftop look-out platform; judging by this woman's fluttering robes, it appears to be very windy."
The quote above the bijin is by Ryūkatei Tanekazu (柳下亭種員: 1807-58). His name is shown along the left side with his seal. This author also wrote the text for Kuniyoshi's illustrations to the Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety. (See #278.)
"Tanabata [七夕] originated in the ancient traditional belief that the Star Weaver which separated by Ama-no-gawa (Heavenly River) or Milky Way from her lover, the Altair, all the year round, meet once a year round meet once a year on the evening of July 7. Also it tells that Japanese women worshiped the Weaver as weaving was one of their most important household tasks in early days. Thus it is primarily a girls' festival. But since it became a national event in the seventh year of Tenpyo Shoho or 755, it has been most elaborately observed by all the people through 10 long centuries.
The romantic belief that the Weaver and the Altair met only once a year appealed to the imagination or the sentiment of young girls. For the success of their own love they eagerly prayed at the festival. Also they prayed that hte evening would be fair in weather, as they thought that, if it rained, the Milky Way would be flooded and the two stars would not be able to meet."
Quoted from Mock Joya's Things Japanese.
Go-sekku: the five festivals
In The Japanese Family Storehouse... by G.W. Sargent lists the five festivals as "...the seventh day of first moon, third of the third, fifth of the fifth, seventh of the seventh, and ninth of the ninth (Wakana no sekku, Momo no sekku, Ayame no sekku, Tanabata-matsuri, Kiku no sekku - though there are variants for most of these names)."
Claude Monet owned another print from this series. It now hangs on display at Giverny.
beautiful women (bijin-ga - 美人画) (genre)
Maruya Seijirō (丸屋清次郎) (publisher)
Historical - Social - Ephemera (genre)
Ryūkatei Tanekazu (柳下亭種員) (author)