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Detached segment of The Diary of Lady Murasaki, emaki
Important Cultural Property
1 hanging scroll
Color on paper
Kamakura period/13th century
Tokyo National Museum
A large part of Murasaki Shikibu Nikki (The Diary of Murasaki Shikibu) consists of entries about the birth, and the events before and after that, of Atsuhira Shinnou (later Emperor Goichijou) given by Chuuguu Shoushi (Empress Shoushi) in Kankō 5 (1008). They describe the situations of the birth, and of a variety of celebratory events that followed it. This piece, Murasaki Shikibu Nikki Emaki, is an emaki (scroll-paintings illustrates a narrative) version of that diary produced in the Kamakura period, with the style that inherits the traditional yamato-e (lit. Japanese painting) style of the Heian period. The existent pieces correspond only to part of the Nikki, and at present, they are owned by different organizations.
Among them, this is a scroll formerly owned by the Okura family, depicting a scene from a grand ceremony at the imperial palace celebrating the fiftieth day from the prince's birth. Prince's maternal grandfather, Hujiwarano Michinaga, in the lower part of the picture, is offering a rice cake to the prince as a ceremonial ritual. The prince, who is still just a baby, is plump and lovely. The nyoubo (female servants for the nobility) at the bottom right of the picture could well be Murasaki Shikibu, the author of the diary.
Preceding this scene, there are some others survived, including the one where a banquet that appears "as if it is a set of tiny utensils for dolls displayed on the Girl's Festival," and the one that depicts the drunkenness of the court nobles at a banquet (Goto Museum version).