Important Cultural PropertyThirty-six Immortal Poets, emaki

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  • Light color on paper
  • 28.3x189.6
  • Nanbokuchō period/14th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • A-10486

 In the late Kamakura period, kasen-e (portraits of the so-called immortal poets with a waka poem) in hakubyo style (a line painting in sumi ink) called the Tameie version or two-poem version became popular. In the North and South Courts period, however, there appeared varieties of kasen-e, such as the Fujifusa version and kasen-e drawn with a wooden brush in hihaku style, as well as Shakkyo kasen-e (portraits of Buddhist poets) and Nyobo kasen-e (female poets), both of which were called "quasi kasen-e."
 The Shakkyo Sanjurokkasen picture scroll was compiled by Eikai, monk of Kanjuji Temple, who wrote the purport of the selection in the preface. At the end of the preface, he wrote that he selected 36 Buddhist poets around March 20, 1348. Since Eikai died five months later, the pictures seem to have been drawn during the period from March 20 to his death.
Currently, only parts or fragments of the original exist, which contain only ten out of 36 Buddhist poets including the following: Daruma Osho, Prince Shotoku, Kobo Daishi, Daisojo Gyoki and Genbin Sozu. However, there remains a miniature created by Kano Tsunenobu, through which we can see the picture scroll in its entirety with poems and paintings. While this one lacks brilliance as a kasen-e, it displays an atmosphere of a simplistic life away from a secular life.