Important Cultural Property
Attributed to Tosa Mitsunobu
1 hanging scroll
Color on paper
Muromachi period/15th century
Tokyo National Museum
This is a portrait of Momonoi Naoaki, founder of Kowaka dancing (a traditional dance with narration that became popular in the late Muromachi period). Naoaki is a descendent of Momonoi Tadatsune, a general in the North and South Courts period that served Asakura Takakage in his later years.
Wearing orieboshi (a type of head gear worn by samurai) and a blue kimono with a pattern of a crane holding a pine branch in the mouth and a turtle, the subject sits on an exotic rug. The high cheekbones and relatively big eyes highlight his facial features. This portrait is unique in that the pine branches spread out behind the subject on both sides. It is not clear whether there was actually a partition with pine tree paintings or if it had a particular significance for the subject.
Legend has it that Naoaki's son Yasuyoshi had Tosa Mitsunobu, a court painter in the late 15th century, draw this portrait after Naoaki's death. The brushwork of this portrait seems to confirm the legend. This is one of the portrait masterpieces of the mid to late Muromachi period, which feature vivid and skillful facial descriptions. Kaihinbonkaku, who wrote the legend to this painting, was a monk of Shingetsuji Temple, a family temple of the Asakura family.