Aging as a Walk on Oinosaka Slope


Aging as a Walk on Oinosaka Slope

Paintings / Kamakura

Artist unkown

Kamakura period, 14th century

Color on paper


This painting compares human life to the climbing of a mountain.

Let's take a look towards the bottom of the scroll first. A small child sits on a veranda and plays with a cat while his parents watch on. This scene represents the warm simplicity of early childhood.

The various stages of youth play out in the garden, from the young child playing horsey astride a strip of bamboo to the older pair practicing archery.

Further up, someone is climbing a mountain that rises behind the building. This symbolizes the journey from adolescence to maturity. Plum, cherry and pine trees line the mountain path. These seem to represent the seasons of human life. Just when the climb seems over, the path starts winding back down. The scenery now shifts from red-tinged maples to the withered trees of winter. The protagonist has renounced the world and his posture is becoming more stooped as he walks along. We finally see him in old age, sitting beneath the leaves of a verdant pine.

So what is a human lifetime? This thought-provoking work gives each viewer something to ponder.

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