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Touhoku'in Poetry Contest among Persons of Various Occupations, emaki
Important Cultural Property
1 scroll
Light color on paper
Kamakura period/14th century
Tokyo National Museum
This is an utaawase-e (a series of paintings depicting a poem contest), where a group of craftsmen, who gathered for a prayer meeting in the fall in 1214, conducted a poem contest following the example of poem contests by noble people. With a sutra transcriber as a judge, a total of ten craftsmen were divided into two groups; a physician, a blacksmith, a swordsmith, a shrine maiden and a fisherman in the group on the left and a master of Yin and Yang, a court carpenter, a founder, a gambler and a merchant in the group on the right. Each craftsman composed two poems on the given themes of "the moon" and "love" and the two groups competed in quality of poetry (five-pair utaawase).
There is a twelve-pair picture scroll, an enlarged edition of the five-pair picture scroll. Although its introduction and title are the same as those of the five-pair picture scroll, the twelve-pair edition contains a background description, a larger number of craftsmen and more detailed contest evaluations than the five-pair picture scroll. In this five-pair scroll, people are drawn mainly in light and easy sumi lines and thin coloring is applied here and there. People on the right and left sides are arranged so that they face each other, following the style of utaawase-e. While Takamatsunomiya-ke and Frear Gallery of Art (USA) versions exist among five-pair picture scrolls, the one that had been handed down to the Manjuin Temple and is currently owned by the Tokyo National Museum is the oldest. While it can be estimated from the postscript of the scroll that this was once owned by Emperor Hanazono (who died in 1348), the scroll style seems to suggest that it was created in the early 14th century.