Seven Komachi in the Floating World: Komachi on the Way
(Ukiyo nana komachi: Kayoi komachi)
signed Eisen ga with artist's seal Sen, censor's seal Kiwame (approved), and publisher's seal Waka (Wakasaya Yoichi of Jakurindo), 1820s
oban tate-e 14 7/8 by 10 in., 37.7 by 25.4 cm
The series title, Seven Komachi of the Floating World (Ukiyo nana komachi), presents beautifully attired women while alluding to the classical grouping of seven episodes from the life of Ono no Komachi (ca. 825-900). One of the Six Immortal Poets, Komachi was renowned for her poetry skills and great beauty, as well as regretable scorn towards any would-be suitors in her youth. A collection of seven legendary episodes from her life, the Nanakomachi, were a favorite theme in plays and ukiyo-e images. The title of this print, Komachi on the Way (Kayoi komachi), refers to an episode from a famous No play written by Zeami (1363-1443) in which one of her lovers, Fukakusa, depicted in the cartouche at upper left, 'on the way in a boat,' although unseen beneath the umbrella, struggles to keep a rendezvous with Komachi.
Eisen subtly alludes to the beautiful Komachi's youthful pride in her expression which seems almost directed at Fukakusa himself over her right shoulder. She stands in dishabille, her clothing loosely secured by her arms crossed at her waist. Her kimono is decorated with a subtle gradation of purple from her shoulders to very pale grey at the hem where black tortoises symbolizing longevity swim over a pattern of white swirling water. Her black obi with a gold geometric sayagata (interlocking 'manji') pattern has dropped to the ground along with a green and white ikat sash and rose kanoko (fawn spot) sash for her under-robes.
Four of designs from this series are recorded, Soshiarai Komachi (Komachi Washing the Manuscript), Amagoi Komachi (Komachi Praying for Rain), Kayoi Komachi (Komachi On the Way), and Sotoba Komachi (Komachi at the Gravepost.)
Chiba City Museum of Art, Keisai Eisen: Artist of the Floating World, 2012, p. 292; Eisen Nishiki-e Index, no. 325-3
(inv. no. 10-5355)
Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays by appointment only
Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit between 11am and 4pm preferably for no more than two individuals at a time.
Visitors are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing at their discretion.
site last updated
September 28, 2022
Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475
Join our mailing list...