lotus poem
lotus poem

Karasumaru Mitsuhiro (1579-1638)

lotus poem on tanzaku paper

poem slip mounted as a hanging scroll ink, color, silver and gold on paper; signed Mitsuhiro, early 17th century

painting 14 1/8 by 2 1/8 in., 36 by 5.5 cm
overall 61 3/4 by 10 3/8 in., 157 by 26.5 cm

Karasumaru Mitsuhiro (1579-1638), a member of the wealthy and well-positioned Karasumaru family of Kyoto, was renown as a master of poetry, calligraphy and tea ceremony. He was an unusual figure in his ablity to influence both the milieu of the cultivated class of court nobles in Kyoto as well as the sophisticated cosmopolitans of the samurai class in Edo. His calligraphy style was so distictive it is identified as the Mitsuhiro-ryu ('Mitsuhiro school'). He associated and patronized Rimpa School masters of the period, such as Tawaraya Sotatsu (fl. early 17th century) and Hon'ami Koetsu (1558-1637). Mitsuhiro's most-famous legacy may be his commission of a pair of screens by Sotatsu, known as the Ivy Lane Screens (in the collection of the Shokokuji Jotenkaku Museum and registered as an Important Cultural Object), upon which he inscribed his own praise of the paintings.

The poem on this tanzaku slip is presented in a mode associated with a revival of 12th century Heian Period poetry anthologies. The poem is written in flowing kana calligraphy and the paper is decorated with gold and silver sprinkles with blue mineral pigment. The small lotus flower at the top of the composition is in reference to the subject of the poem, an auspicious double-lotus blossom. While the lotus is a familiar Buddhist symbol for purity and enlightenment itself, the double-lotus is considered an omen for happiness, kind-heartedness and beauty; as well as a metaphor for brotherly and romantic harmony.

Ikkei nika no hachisu wo mite
Hirakukoso onaji kokoro no iroka nare
Futahana misuru hasuno ippon

Viewing one lotsu stem with two flowers
Each flower, same color, same fragrance
Yet I am seeing two together from one stem

—Karasumaru Mitsuhiro (1579-1638)



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
October 21, 2021

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475