Portraits of Thirty-six Immortal Poets, Satake Version: The Great Deity of Sumiyoshi Shrine


Portraits of Thirty-six Immortal Poets, Satake Version: The Great Deity of Sumiyoshi Shrine

Paintings / Kamakura

Kamakura period, 13th century

Color on paper



Important Cultural Property

The Thirty-Six Immortal Poets is an illustrated handscroll that collects poems by 36 exceptional poets who actually existed and their portraits. Each poet is introduced in the order of their name, history, poetry, and portrait. The format of introducing 36 poets is based on the Selection of Thirty-Six Poets, a poetry collection compiled by the nobleman and poet Fujiwara no Kintō, who was active in the latter half of the 10th century and first half of the 11th.

This work is the oldest surviving example of portraits of immortals of poetry and is called the Satake version because it was handed down in the Satake clan in Akita Prefecture. The Satake version features larger paper than other illustrated handscrolls. In combination with the sparkling mixture of powdered mica and glue painted on its surface, this gives the Satake version an impressive quality. The Satake version consists of two volumes, and it is known that the 37th painting, featuring a poem and scenery from Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine in Osaka, was added to the beginning of the second volume.

In the first half of the 20th century, a group centered on the industrialist and tea ceremony master Masuda Don’ō cut the Satake version into sections by poet and remounted the pieces as hanging scrolls. It took place in the Okyokan, which then belonged to Don’ō and has now been dismantled and reconstructed in the garden of this museum.

This segment contains the only painting in the Satake version that is of a landscape rather than a person. Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine was known for a deity of Japanese poetry, but this painting is unusual in that it is a landscape painting of the shrine and not a portrait of the deity. Its appearance differs from the current Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine, but the faintly painted shoreline and the bridge connecting the shores convey what the shrine grounds looked like at that time.

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