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This poetry and artwork, done by one of the most renowned and loved waka poets of the 19th century—Ōtagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875), tells the story of a personal moment of joy and contemplation upon returning home one autumn evening accompanied by the brilliant moon above.
Born into a Samurai family but soon after adopted by the Ōtagaki family, from the age of seven to sixteen Rengetsu was a lady in waiting at Kameoka castle where she was trained in the arts and courtly graces. Due to her rumored great beauty, she soon married but after the death of her husband in 1823, she joined the temple Chion-in and became a nun, taking Rengetsu (Lotus Moon) as her Buddhist name.
Rengetsu is widely regarded as one of the greatest waka poets of the 19th century. A skilled Shijo School painter, she was also an accomplished calligrapher and potter. She admired and studied under a number of great poets including Ozawa Roan and Ueda Akinari, and later in life became a close friend and mentor to the artist Tomioka Tessai.
The poem reads:
No ni yama ni, ukare ukare te, kaerusa wo, neya made okuru, aki no yo no tsuki
In the fields in the mountains, delighted, deeply so, returning to my bedroom, accompanied by the autumn night moon.
Although the poem itself speaks of pure joy and gratitude, we can detect a subtle contrast with the artwork which appears slightly melancholy, almost ghostly. Rengetsu’s life was one of perseverance in the face of a number of personal tragedies, including the death of her husband and all of her children. Her ability to endure such trials without allowing the weight of the world to crush her spirit largely defined her as a person. Some believe that it is this intimate familiarity with suffering that brought a very humanistic and compassionate touch to her works.
Sumi and color on Japnanese paper with a silk border, this hanging scroll is 166cm tall and 27.5cm wide. The artwork on the scroll is 94cm tall and 24.5cm wide and is in very good condition. Fully insured international shipping is included in the price.
NOTE: We currently have a number of other fine works by Ōtagaki Rengetsu that are not listed in our catalog. Please contact us for details.