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Japanese woodblock print Genji art

Masao Ebina Print - Genji Dancing Seigaiha

SKU: ME005

Zusetsu was founded on a passion for and curiosity about Japan’s ancient capital Kyoto. The rich seam of beauty that is to be discovered in the city may be traced back to the 8th century when Kyoto became the auspicious new home of the Emperor and his court.


Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji details life at court, and many of the festivals, traditions, and artisan skills that may be found in this vibrant city today originated in this Heian era.


Zusetsu ART celebrates the Kyoto artist Masao Ebina, who naturally turned to the vibrant work of Murasaki Shikibu to complete a series of illustrations for each of the 54 chapters of The Tale of Genji, echoing in his fine art work the style of early Genji manuscript art.


Released in 1953, only 200 editions of each deluxe set were created. The Masao Ebina print that we present to you here today is a small part of one of these limited edition sets of illustrations.


This print features excellent colour and detail as shown in the photo. There may be slight paper remnants or thinning of the paper at the top edge owing to the original publisher mounting. There may be small spots or slight creases on the paper. 


Note, also, the symbol in the top right corner from the fragrance game Genjiko, which is a part of the incense ceremony known as kodo, one of the three classical arts of Japan. (You can read more about it here.)


In this illustration Genji dances the Heian court dance seigaiha.


In the seventh chapter of The Tale of Genji called Momiji no Ga (Beneath the Autumn Leaves), Genji and his good friend Tō no Chūjō rehearse and then perform the Seigaiha. It is described by Murasaki as as an incredibly moving performance of great beauty:


'Captain Genji danced 'Blue Sea Waves'. His partner the Secretary Captain, His Excellency of the Left's son, certainly stood out in looks and skill, but beside Genji he was only a common mountain tree next to a blossoming cherry. As the music swelled and the piece reached its climax in the clear light of the late afternoon sun, the cast of Genji's features and his dancing gave the familiar steps an unearthly quality.' (Royall Tyler translation.)


    Dimensions :

    • The actual image size is 305mm x 213mm approx.
    • There is a small margin of between 8 and 12mm.

    Condition :

    • The overall condition is good.
    • There are one or two small scuffs of ink from the printing process in the margins.
    • There are one or two faint creases on the print.
    • On the back of the art at the top margin there are paper remnants where the print was once mounted. 
    • There is a red ink maker's stamp on the bottom left of the print.
    • There is beautiful detailed patterning in silver ink on Genji's robes and shoes.

    Weight : 6 g.

    Woodblock print from Japan.

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