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Scholten Japanese Art Gallery
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Yoshu Chikanobu, 1838-1912
Collection of Magic Lantern Slides: Oji Waterfall
(Gento shashin kurabe: Oji Taki)

a beauty standing in front of a projected image of the Oji waterfall attempts to adjust her obi while her playful cat has snagged the trailing end of the brocade fabric; signed Yoshu Chikanobu hitsu, with artist's red Tama seal, publisher's seal of Yokoyama Ryohachi, dated Meiji nijusannen (Meiji 23 [1890])
oban tate-e 14 1/8 by 9 1/4 in., 35.9 by 23.4 cm
The image of a cat tangled up in an obi is a classic allusion to The Third Princess (Nyosan) from the Genji Monogatari ('The Tale of Genji'). In Chapter 34, Wakana I ('New Herbs: Part One'), Kashiwagi (the son of Genji's close friend To no Chujo) first spies the Third Princess when her cat upsets a bamboo screen as she watched a group of young nobles playing kemari (football) under cherry blossoms. This first encounter leads to an ill-fated affair which results in a pregnancy. Although Genji knew that the child, Kaoru, was not his son, he raised him as his own. Kashiwagi is consumed by guilt and dies; while the Princess likewise cannot live with her transgression and becomes a nun. The subject of Nyosan and her cat became a popular reference in ukiyo-e prints and paintings. An image with a beauty and a cat, usually on her hem, became visual short-hand for the Genji episode.
price: Sold