Listen: Tomoko Sakomura on "Picturing a Classic: The Tale of Genji in Japanese Visual Culture."
Earlier this fall, Associate Professor of Art History Tomoko Sakomura delivered her lecture "Picturing a Classic: The Tale of Genji in Japanese Visual Culture" as part of the Aydelotte Foundation's Second Tuesday Cafes. Download a pdf of images used in her presentation.
Second Tuesday Arts & Humanities Cafes are a monthly series that highlight the intellectual relevance of humanities approaches to arts and culture, on topics ranging from visual narratives in Japan, to reflections on life and death in South Indian religions, to current intersections of theater, dance, and music performance in the United States. Events are geared for individuals with no formal background in the arts and humanities. The only requirement is curiosity.
Tomoko Sakomura: Good afternoon, thank you so much for being here. So this is the kind of material that I teach in my first year seminar and also in my honor seminar. So it's a little bit different from my research but is a topic, the Tale of Genji, is something that as a art historian of Japanese culture, you cannot avoid and if Will Gardener is here he can also tell me how he also teaches it in literature.
It is really my pleasure to be able to talk on this material today, and I have a lot of props today including two full translations of this text, which was written in the very beginning of the eleventh century. And this is a full translation from 2001, this is a full translation that just came out on July of this year and both very interesting and I'll be able to touch on how they're a little bit different in the coming slides.
But this is actually the most recent one is now the fourth. So there's four full translations in English. This text is something that was written in classical Japanese so there are also numerous modern translations in Japanese as well. And this is a text that was written by Murasaki Shikibu who is the lady in waiting that I have on the screen. She is the woman on the left, and this is a portrait of a Heian lady.
A Heian period is the period from the late eight century to the late 12th century and it's called a Heian lady and it's at the Philadelphia museum of art, and I think the PMA people considered this to be Murasaki Shikibu, the author. There many, many portraits of Murasaki Shikibu that have been made and that survive today.
The text, which sadly we don't have the original of, also has been passed down through multiple copies and as I am showing you to the right, it's 54 chapters in all and it is a story that has been enjoyed over the past millennium. There has been a, according to a diary entry dating from 1008 that's the first mention of this text in historical records, and so you can imagine that in 2008 there were numerous exhibitions celebrating the Genji millennium so to speak, and there were many exhibitions showcasing the visual arts surrounding this book.
Murasaki Shikibu, the author of this tale was born to kind of a middle level aristocratic family so she didn't really have the political support but she had the education and wit to serve the Empress at the time. So she was in a very central part of the Imperial culture at the time. Also for a woman at the time she was also educated by her father in Chinese classic so she had this amazing range of knowledge, both in Japanese and Chinese literature that she demonstrates in this Tale of Genji.
If you go to Amazon.com, and if you look for this book, there's a quote, and this is a quote from Ian Buruma who reviewed this translation in the New Yorker. He says, "Murasaki, our author, watched the sexual maneuverings, the social plots, the marital politics, the swirl or slights and flatteries that went on around her with a keen, sometimes sardonic, and always worldly eyes of a medieval Jane Austin." So that's success [inaudible 00:03:51] that kind of gives you a sense of what Murasaki's doing in these 54 chapters. So she was right there in the center of the court. This is a 54 chapters fictional story of courtly romance but that really is based on this keep observation that is demonstrated here.
There are more than 430 characters and the story spans nearly three quarters of a century, and in the first chapter we meet the shining prince, Prince Genji, who is the main character. And this is, I'm taking this genealogy from Richard Bowring, who is a scholar of Japanese literature, and if you look right here, you'll see that there's a web of relationships and there's formal marriages and there's also sexual relations without issue and there's sexual relations with issue, and so on and so forth. So there is this kind of very intricate web of relationships and as readers, we need this to keep track of who's who in the story. But we're not the only ones, because such genealogies were made from very early on since this tale was made.
We are located in Kyoto, which is western Japan, and in Kyoto today there's also ... It's very much like New York city in the way this is a gridded layout, and this was the center of the universe for the courtiers who inhabited the Imperial court at the time. This is really the location in which the story takes place. This is a model of the residence of Prince Genji, and this is a polygamous society at the time, so here we have four quarters of residences, all of his wives living in separate quarters but very close to one and other. So you can imagine the kind of gossips and encounters that ensue.
In the introduction to the most recent translation, Dennis Washburn notes, "One measure of Genji's achievement as art, is that like the Homeric epics or the tragedies of Shakespeare, Genji Monogatari, this tale, has been able to inspire multiple interpretations over a long period of time." He also notes, "Over the past millennium, readers from vastly different eras and social backgrounds have discovered in its depiction of the culture of the Imperial court, a profound understanding of human experience that simultaneously resonates with, and challenges their own."
In my presentation today what I'm hoping to do, is to show that not everyone had access to this text, but many encountered Genji through images. Also these images demonstrate how multiple artists and viewers over time engage with Genji and also kept Genji relevant to their times. I hope to be able to demonstrate this, how the role of images in this reception of Genji.
I'm starting with this image, and I want you to take a moment to see what's going on. This is, I think it's appropriate to start the discussion of visual culture of Genji with this text, with this particular artwork, because this is the earliest extant example that we have today. It was made about a hundred years after the text was written, so it's from the early 12th century. It's actually a little bit of a deceptive image here because it's a ... This was written or made in a form of a hand scroll, which is this rolled up scroll, and as a viewer you would be unrolling at a time, like this. So this is deceptive in a way because it has all the parts of a scroll all rolled up for you.
I start with this image also because it's truly is the rock star of all Genji representations. It has been featured in stamps and also part of a section appears in a 2,000 yen bill in Japan. So if you can imagine sort of Greek mythology or Shakespeare, the way that it is part of a popular culture today, that's kind of where Genji occupies. You kind of are very aware of it as this great literary classic and you're familiar with the images of as well.
I'm also starting with this image because it allows me to show you what a narrative hand scroll looks like. A narrative hand scroll is one of the most used formats in Japanese art, for telling narratives. I just have this on the screen, and I want you to fight the urge to read from left to right as you would read western languages, because everything is going from right to left. The text is written from top to bottom. This is also allows me to show you that in these narrative hand scrolls, the way of representation is that you would first have excerpts of text, which is then followed by image. So it's text, image, text image, text image.
This was the most deluxe set. We believe that is was made for a celebration or a birthday of a retired emperor. It originally consisted of 10 to 12 scrolls, more that a hundred excerpts from this 54 chapter accompanying images, but what we have today are just 20 paintings and 29 excerpts, so about one fifth of the original has survived today and they are disbursed among different collections in Japan.
This is a scroll that gives us a sense of the high ... the ascetics of the time, of the 12th century, the kind of ascetics that courtiers of the 11th century who are discussed in this story also very much cared about.
They're about five artistic supervisors involved, and it was kind of like a contest in a way that each of these supervisors were likely assigned 2 to 3 scrolls each, and we have a sense of different calligraphers, and the best painters, the best paper makers of the time involved in the production. I'm showing you a close up of calligraphy. This is very elegant calligraphy and also I think you notice how densely the paper is decorated as well. So you have very high quality paper. People today can't replicate these techniques. You see a very thin pieces of gold foil that is scattered across the surface. It's really truly a wonderful piece of material culture that we have here today.
It's the oldest extant manuscript version as I mentioned, and it also describes ... The scenes that survive today also give us a sense of the deep emotion that is described in this tale. So since I don't have the time to talk about 54 chapters, I am going to focus on a arc, a narrative arc that goes from chapter 34, 35, 36, and it a part of the story where Genji is the protagonist. He is at the center. He is, I think he's in his 40s, but he has a child in his very advanced age. This child is Kaoru that we see down there.
This is chapter 36, and chapter 36 in this national treasure scroll set. I forgot to mention that it's a national treasure. It's a Japanese national treasure. There's three scenes selected to represent this particular chapter. You can imagine that these supervisors decided that these three images would best represent what is at the core of this chapter. Again, I want you to think about reading these images as you imagine the scroll being unscrolled, going from right to left, and us pausing.
So these are the three scenes, first, second and third ... I want you to try to make sense of this. What happens in this chapter, this is a major spoiler alert so I'm sorry if you kind of was thinking about reading this tale, but the tragedy here from chapter 34 to 36 is that who we thought was Genji's child is actually an illegitimate child that was born between his official wife, the Third Princess, and a son of his rival, Kashiwagi. So Third Princess, Kashiwagi, please note those names. So Kaoru is in fact, not Genji's son.
We have an excerpt here, and then we have this image and here I am able to describe one of the techniques that are employed in telling this story in a narrative hand scroll. This is a technique called the blown off roof. We are looking at, as viewers, we are seeing the characters in this chapter from the top. We are able to see the various relationships all at once. The Third Princess is right here, this is Genji, and then this is Third Princess's father, the retired emperor who has come to see her because she has just given birth to this beautiful boy and yet she wants to ... She's unhappy and she's becoming ill.
So here is the emperor visiting her, and Genji's surprised because this is an unannounced surprise visit. Then we have multiple ladies in waiting here, in the scene as well. This is a structure of the room. This is another model that shows us what it looks like. Imagine that we are looking in and this is the main room here, and this is a kind of structure from the 11th century, 12th century, where you have corridors surrounding on these rooms.
One of the things to keep in mind is at the time of the tale, when the tale takes place, the high ranking ladies were rarely seen. They were always hidden behind these bamboo blinds. To be able to see a woman directly demonstrates that you're very intimate. That's something to keep in mind as we look at these images. Here you see the corridors.
This is giving us a perspective into this scene, and the top image is a photograph, and as you can imagine photographs are linear perspectives so you have a set and so you kind of looking in to this image. Compared to this very organized, stable, composition that we see at the top, in the bottom you see that there are so many lines, diagonal lines that are cutting through the figures. These are the tatami mats that you see here, these are the standing curtains that you see here, there is multiple of them. You see also the floor right here, so you have a sense of the scene where these two, who are father and daughter, and Genji, deeply engaged in a very sad moment.
This room is filled with tension. The figures here are rather still. You might kind of look at this image and think that this is your ... It's like a frozen frame from a movie or a snapshot of a moment, but in fact, there's a lot of emotions swirling around in this image. The figures are just very delicately gesturing. So they're crying, they're sobbing in this scene, and yet they look very still. In this technique, what's creating this emotional effect is the fact that as viewers, we see the three figures locked in this triangle, that he's very confused because he doesn't know what's going on. Genji knows exactly what's going on because he's actually found the letter that was written by Kashiwagi and he discovers that it's not actually his son.
So he knows all this but he can't tell the emperor what's going on. The Third Princess is meanwhile is saying, "I would like to renounce the world, please father make me a nun." There's a lot going on here. These figures are locked together in this triangular relationship, and yet no one's really talking to on another. What is creating this emotional effect is all these diagonals, these diagonal lines and also the curtains. They are the ones aflutter, they are the ones representing this emotion that is swirling in the minds of these figures.
The hand scroll as I demonstrated, it's something that you move as you go along, so this is a hand scroll of a landscape. There are two approaches to representing story or telling a story with a hand scroll. What we've been looking at is the top image, where it's the text and we have a compartmentalized kind of vignette, followed by another text.
Another approach here is where a text is then followed by continuous events. So really as you're scrolling along, you're following the narrative. This is a really wonderful scene of a fire that breaks out at a Imperial palace. That the tale of Genji scroll producers chose to take this approach makes sense because what they want you to do is to stop, and look at this image, and spend a lot of time doing what we like to call these days slow looking, where you immersing yourself in that moment and in that image.
This is the first scene and it also helps you to see that the ladies in waiting, much like the author Murasaki, she was one of them, they're always present so there's not a moment where you truly alone. You have these figures around you.
This is the second scene that was selected for the scroll. We see Genji's son, Yugiri, visiting Kashiwagi at his deathbed. This is the father of the child. Again we see here two figures very close to one another. He's at his deathbed but it's actually a day where there's a lot of celebration going on because he's just been promoted. He's at his deathbed because he's dying because he knows that Genji knows what happened, and so he's really ... This has made him so terribly ill that he cannot live anymore and he's kind of wills himself to death. So we have this moment and the composition now shows us looking at the two characters, looking at one another, and again we see a group of ladies in waiting looking in. Kashiwagi, although he lying down in his bed, he's wearing an official formal hat to keep face and to allow his friend to come see him.
This is a very important moment in this chapter because Kashiwagi's suggesting, he's not telling his friend exactly what happened, but he's telling him that something terrible has happened and he must apologize to Genji. They're close, yet we don't, nothing is revealed and it's interesting because this very intimate scene never gets represented again in visual culture after this scroll.
This is a selection of, it's a short passage so I think it's okay to show this here, this is the text that precedes the third image. This is the Tyler translation so allow me to read it out loud. It says, "'One or two of her women must know what happened. How I wish she would understand me but no, to her I probably look like a fool. Nevermind my own part in this though, I feel sorrier for her than for me.' Genji's face betray none of these thoughts. 'How do that innocent babbling, those sweet eyes and that clear mouth look to someone who does not know? The resemblance is very close though. And to think that he left no more than this pitiful and completely unknown legacy. A child he could never have shown his parents, even though they were no doubt weeping for him to have one. Proud and accomplished as he was, he brought about his own destruction.' Pity and regret drove the affront from Genji's heart, and he burst into tears. 'Should anyone ask who it is who, in his time, cast that seed abroad, what reply will he then give the pine planted on the rock?'"
So there's a lot of he's and she's and if you're an unaccustomed reader, it's very confusing. Tyler keeps the feel of the original. The original is very dense, there's no punctuation and so that there's a whole commentarial culture that annotated line by line. It's deliberately vague in a sense. Let me allow you the new translation. What the translator has done here is he's really tried to spell things out for us. It's getting a lot of good reviews and I think it makes sense. But now you can compare two different approaches.
This translation, he decided to translate the inner monologue in italics, so that we know what is the monologue, and what is the dialogue, and the authorial voice. Here it says, "'There must be someone among her attendants who knows the truth. It's annoying not knowing who she is. And since she has no idea how I feel, I probably look like a proper fool to her. Still I can put up with the criticism that comes my way. Between the two of us the Third Princess is the one more to be pitied.' He did not blush or show any expression that might give away his private thoughts. Ginji observed the child's innocent babbling and laughter, and was captivated by the expression around his little eyes and mouth. 'I wonder what those women who are unaware of the truth think about his looks? He really does rememble Kashiwagi.' Ginji's thoughts turned to the boy's true father. He left behind this little keepsake that no one knows about. That he couldn't even show to his parents who were probably weeping right this moment, wondering why he did not a least leave a child behind as a memento for them.
'To think that such an ambitious and accomplished young man should have destroyed himself.' Overcome by pity and remorse, the outrage that had filled Genji's heart dissipated, and he wept. 'How will the pine rooted in the crags respond should someone ask by whose hand and in whose rain was its seed planted?'"
So a lot of it is spelled out for us. This is the image that we encounter as after we read that excerpt. We see here Genji, and this is the Third Princess. He's actually abruptly drawn the curtains on her and he's in this room holding the baby. Again there are ladies in waiting, and there's this external space, which we as viewers get to fill with our thoughts about what's going on.
When we zoom in to the Genji and the baby Kaoru, we see that their eyes are locked, and they're looking at one another. It's interesting because x-ray photos reveal, or infrared photos revealed that in an earlier version, the painter had chosen to depict the baby's arms outstretched toward Genji, but I think in the final they decided that it was too much. Too explicit. So instead these are two figures looking at one another. Here I am also showing you a technique that is used in early narrative painting, which is to represent the figure's faces with lines for the eyes and a hook for the nose.
Sometimes this gets criticized for being very bland faces, but in fact when you look closely, and I want to note that these faces are about the size of your thumbnail, so they're very small images, but you see that very delicate lines in fact show emotion, and this has the task of demonstrating looking and thinking at the same time. Also because the faces are done in this conventional manner, as viewers we are able to project our thoughts on to the scene.
This is a very image, but I'm showing you a 17th century printed version of this text. You see that there are a lot of text in this particular chapter, but as I have demonstrated for chapter 36 in the 12th century scroll, only sections of it were excerpted.
Okay, now let's get to comic book renditions of this very same scene. This is called Asaki yume mishi. This was a very epic thirteen volume serialized comic book that was published from 1979 to 1993. By one estimation, by 1999, there were 17 million copies sold. So very popular. This very same scene, this is the equivalent of the last, the third image that we just looked at. This is the celebration. It's the baby's 50th birthday and there are ladies in waiting, talking to Genji, saying, "How should we organize this celebration?" And there is a lot of dialogue. The speech bubbles tell you what's going on, or the dialogues that the figures are talking, and then around the head of Genji, is the inner monologue.
You see that the artist here has also created a lot of frames in different sizes, in different shapes. This is the Third Princess. She has now become a nun. She still has long hair but she's wearing dark robes and Genji is not very fond of her to begin with, and he says because she makes very bad decisions, and also her manners are a little bit childish so he's saying here, "Again? Do you really have to come on this 50th birthday in such a dark robe?"
Here's the scene where he has lifted up the curtains, and talking to her about what's going on, and then there's the baby, and the baby's cooing and awing is drawn in that but in a different style, demonstrating that it's a baby's voice that is speaking. Then here's Genji's inner thoughts and the background turns black so he's suffering, he's really suffering. He's thinking, "Poor Kashiwagi." Then Kashiwagi's image floats in and we saw that little poem that was introduced at the end of the passage.
Here the author introduces that poem but she chooses a different type of font to demonstrate that this is an elegant expression, and to distinguish it from the other dialogues that are happening.
Here, another major spoiler alert, is that Genji realizes that Karma is catching up with him because in fact, he had an affair with his father's consort and they have an illegitimate child as well and he's the current emperor. He's realizing that it has come full circle and now he turns his attention to his baby. So remember we were looking at them looking at one another, but here we see him ... We are occupying Genji and looking at the baby and lightness, there's light shining through and he says, "Yes, I can love this child." So it's a very happily moment of discovery.
You see the background, the type of fonts that are selected, all of these are contributing to this narrative telling. This is the spoiler, where Genji and the emperor, his father, he actually had a child with his consort and it is the Reizei emperor right here. In the 2,000 yen bill interestingly they also picked a scene where Genji and the Reizei emperor, they kind of acknowledge that they're actually father and son. But again, there is an architectural beam that cuts right through them, so as viewers we recognize that it is never a relationship that is meant to be revealed.
This is one of the earliest forms of narrative hand scroll. It's very important format in Japanese visual culture. But a lot of Genji also survives in other formats. Let me quickly go through those images as well to demonstrate difference in approach.
This is an album book, and in this version of the Genji, we have one excerpt, which is then coupled with one scene. One scholar describes this as a 'scenographic sensibility.' A scenographic approach to representing the narrative where you experience the narrative primarily as a pictorial sequencing of events, moments, or encounters. So it represents a different mode of reading. It also produced a kind of compositional template, or what we call iconographies, that allow us to easily identify and image with a chapter.
This is currently in the Harvard Art Museums, and it's from the 16th century. And most likely, although it's in album form today, it was used to be pasted on the surface of folding screens. The folding screen is ... well you can go to Ikea and other furniture stores today to buy these things, but they were very effective room dividers but also very important formats for paintings in Japanese pre-modern Japan. We see the text and the image being pasted here.
This is a manual, that also has been translated called The Iconography of the Tale of Genji. It's from the 16th century, and it's a painter's manual that tells you to represent this chapter, here are the motifs that you should use. So you have a sense of this codification happening around Genji.
This is the 36th chapter. We also know from the backing paper that it was a major project involving several courtiers at the time. Here's one scene from one of the images where they're having a picture contest.
These are the three scenes that are selected for chapters 34, 35, and 36. This is an important image that I want to talk about for a moment. This is the fateful meeting between Kashiwagi and Third Princess. As I describe the ladies were often behind bamboo blinds, so men really never had a chance to see these people. But Kashiwagi, although he's never laid eyes on the Third Princess, knew of her reputation and he had been pining just thinking about her and he has this very lucky moment. Unlucky for the Third Princess. Lucky for him.
Where they have a soccer, I shouldn't call it, a kick ball match at the palace where young courtiers are doing kick ball and they're throwing up this ball in the air. The goal is to keep it in the air. And foolishly, the Third Princess's cat runs out, decides to just run out, and lift the blinds and lo and behold there is Kashiwagi and he sees her. That's really the beginning of the tragedy.
This is my seminar. We visit the storage room of the Philadelphia Museum of Art 'cause the Philadelphia Museum of Art also has wonderful images from Genji and here's, to give you a sense of scale, and the importance of seeing an actual work [inaudible 00:33:36] This is again, a scene from chapter 34, that moment where the cat escapes and you never see Lady Tso tso standing, so this is scandalous too that she's standing like this.
From about the 16th century, in addition to the album books and also the hanging scrolls, we have the hand scrolls. We have folding screens dedicated to Genji. This is a screen that represents all the chapters of Genji in two pairs. Or in one pair. What they did here is they represent each chapter, and the gold clouds separate on each chapter. In a way, if you ordered a Ginji screen, you had all the 54 chapters. Some of the chapters were duplicated or represented by different scenes because if you do the math, if you represent 5 chapters per panel, that's gonna be 60 and there's 54 chapters.
Here's another version, and this a fan painting. This is what a fan looks like. It's used to keep cool but also you think the incognito by kind of carrying it in front of your face, but these were also mediums that came to be used to represent Genji. This is a very clever version and very advanced version so to speak because we don't have the chapters ordered by chapter but rather it's organized by season in which the chapter takes place. This is very advanced Genji.
We also have the poems selected from chapters inscribed on them. It's very ... cultured for a very specific patron who was then very intimately familiar and so again we have that familiar image of the kick ball scene, the Third Princess and the cat organized by season. You can imagine that once the Genji becomes represented on the folding screen, this gives the artist really interesting challenge. How am I going to tackle 54 chapters?
Here is an example where this screen typically uses clouds because they're very good devices of kind of bending time and space, or not having to describe these things but instead this painter decided I'm gonna do away with the clouds and I'm gonna try to make every scene fit within and architectural setting. So we have so much buildings and the figures interacting in the scene.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art also has screens and in this case, not all 54 but selected chapters are represented. So for example, we have the 34th chapter here and the 54 version, and we have the same image here. I think you can see how each chapter there is kind of a conventionalized approach to representing these chapters.
Let me see then, right here. Now the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., they have a screen that also just zeroes in on that moment. So a whole screen is dedicated to that one chapter. We have again the Third Princess who is standing up, the cat has escaped, and there's Kashiwagi.
This one is very interesting, where the painter has chosen to draw the bamboo blinds in front of her eyes. And so are we that close to Genji? Are we forever separated from the world of Genji? It brings a lot of interesting questions and in my seminar I just assign a screen to a student. I think it's a tough task because I say, "Read the chapter. Look at all the images that have been produced on that chapter for all of pre-modern times and figure out what's going on in these images. But so worthwhile students, they rise to the task. It's really amazing, wonderful interpretations every year.
This is what, how a screen is used. It's really a partition but also it shows who the most important person is in the room. There's also a front and a back. The content of Genji can be a little scandalous because there are a lot of relationships, but Genji becomes celebrated as an artifact and truly respected as a legacy, and so we see the Tale of Genji appearing as motifs and also produces sets for bridal trousseaus as doweries.
So we have this set from the 17th century made for a princess. Every little object that she took for her marriage is decorated with the Tale of Genji. There's these stands to display her books, and these are containers for matching shell games. This is really for people who had a lot of time on their hands because this was a game where you were matching the shells. Right? It's like you spread it all out and the really kind of amazing thing is that you're not matching the pictures, but you're actually matching the patterns on the shells because the shells always have the same pattern on them. So next time you have a clam, take a look because they have the same pattern on them.
Again, so we see the iconography that has been developed on a particular chapter, painted on to the surface. There are also many deluxe books that were produced for these brides for their education and cultivation. Genji becomes a resource of how to behave, how to also ... reading the text, and writing calligraphy, all of these things. So we have these very deluxe sets that were made. Some were not read, suggesting that they were there for show, kind of a deluxe set.
They also become patterns on robes. We have this robe from I would say the 17th century where we have the Ginji booklets being scattered and names of the chapters also embroidered on to the surface. This is a ceramic box from The Philadelphia Museum of Art. It says, "The Tale of Genji," it has the books, but it's a box. So it's kind of this commodification of Genji but also Genji as object.
We see this also in this print from the 18th century where courtesans are playing a game of incense matching, and we see in the background to demonstrate that they're oh so cultured and cultivated so they have stacks of books in the background. The Genji incense phenomenon is also very, very interesting. Where 25 packets of incense are distributed and each player gets five, and you don't smell incense, you listen to incense. You're supposed to identify which of them were similar or the same, and depending on it you connect the lines and each pattern is associated with a chapter from the Tale of Genji. Here we have this Genji booklet that shows you again, very specific motifs now coming to represent the story.
Now I want to also end with some images from popular culture of the 18th century, 19th century. This is the print culture. So if previously you had to have known someone who could make copies of the Genji for you, there are now print editions at this time. There are also these single sheet Genji images that you could buy for about the same price for a bowl of noodles. So this is Genji culture becoming part of a growing public. This is very elegant where it shows the Third Princess and Kashiwagi. Were they ever this close outside, just standing by with each other? No, but here you have the poem that is exchanged between them. It's very elegant. It also just shows classical culture packaged into one with the elegant clouds, the attire, all of this speaks of this classical bygone time.
Here is Genji in contemporary disguise of the 18th and 19th century. So the people are wearing 18th century robes and this is also taking place at a courtesan's bordello. We see Genji and he unfortunately discovers the letter from Kashiwagi to the Third Princess and this is how the whole scandal is revealed. And so we see him at that moment looking at, finding the letter.
In this one, we see, although it says chapter 36, we have kind of a mash up of images from chapter 34 and 36 because we see here the Third Princess, the cat, Kashiwagi holding the soccer ball and the cat holding the letter in its mouth. So it's all the motifs smushed in one. And we also as a bonus have the Genji incense of representing this chapter. So it's interesting that it's actually a lot of the images coming from chapter 34, but chapter 36 is called Kashiwagi and so these images from chapter 34 become associated with 36.
Then we have many images of just the Third Princess with the cat. And there's many kind of gendered readings that we can do about this but for now I think we can ... I'd like to end by saying that we are now Genji looking at, we're Kashiwagi not Genji, if only it were Genji. So it is Kashiwagi looking at the Third Princess and these portraits were made. So we can also imagine courtesans kind of imagining themselves as the Third Princess and these images being produced for them.
So I heard just yesterday that there's going to be a exhibition of The Tale of Genji at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in three year's time. Fall of 2018. I hope that this has gotten you a little bit interested and that we can make a go, take a tour, through this exhibition together but now I'd like to stop and entertain any questions that you might have about this visual culture. Thank you.