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Sumiyoshi Monogatari Emaki (Narrative picture scroll of the tale of Sumiyoshi)
Important Cultural Property
1 scroll
Color on paper
Kamakura period/13th century
Tokyo National Museum
This is a picture scroll depicting the "Sumiyoshi Monogatari" and the remnant of the oldest existing scroll. Sumiyoshi Monogatari is a love story about a third-class officer and a princess that goes as follows: One day, the princess suddenly disappeared from the public eye as she had run away from her mean step-mother and had taken refuge in Sumiyoshi. The lieutenant general, who missed her badly, had a dream of the Kannon of the Hasedera Temple, who told him her whereabouts. He finally found her and after she met her father, they got married and lived happily ever after.
While one volume and four paintings currently exist, according to a copy of the original, they used to constitute one scroll at the time of 1848. The one volume and one painting owned by the Tokyo National Museum depict part of the latter half of the Sumiyoshi Monogatari comprising a scene where the lieutenant found the princess in Sumiyoshi and a party celebrating their marriage (first volume) and a scene where the lieutenant and his friends from Kyoto celebrated the marriage by playing music together (one painting). The painting of the scene depicting their return to Kyoto and a legend explaining their life in Kyoto are owned by a private individual. The value of the legend that has been passed down to the present is immeasurable, despite the fact that it contains only three sentences.
The volume the Tokyo National Museum owns depicts a series of five scenes, which had happened at different times, on a long screen without any legend. This form of description differs from that of the traditional picture scrolls of the Heian period known as a paragraph style and rather resembles the screen development of a narrative picture scroll. The Seikado Bunko Art Museum owns a two-volume book different from this type.