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signed Eishi zu, with publisher’s tomo-e mark and seal Eiju han (Nishimuraya Yohach of Eijudo), and censor seal kiwame, ca. 1795
aiban tate-e 13 by 9 in., 33 by 22.9 cm
This print is from an untitled series illustrating beauties at the Six Jewel Rivers (Mu Tamagawa). The term tamagawa (jewel river), first expressed in the 8th century poetry anthology Manyoshu, is frequently used in classical Japanese poetry to describe a particularly beautiful river. By the Edo period, a grouping of six specific ‘jewel rivers,’ or Mutamagawa, had become popular subjects for artists and poets alike. Ukiyo-e representations of the Mutamagawa – Koya, Noda, Mishima, Noji, Ide, and Chofu – reflect on literary allusions to these rivers and the iconographies which developed about them.
The poem by Fujiwara no Shunzei (1114-1204) at the upper left reads:
nao mizu kawan
hana no tsuyu sou
Ide no Tamagawa
Pulling up my horse
After having passed the banks
I see the petals
of Yamabuki roses
in Ide’s Tamagawa
In representations (in print or paintings) of the Ide River as one of the Mutamagawa, figures are consistently depicted wading into the shallow waters with blossoming yamabuki (yellow mountain roses) along the shore. Often, as in this print, it is a group of beauties; other more literal interpretations referencing Shunzei’s poem feature a rider on a horse pausing in mid-stream.
Sadao Kikuchi, A Treasury of Japanese Woodblock Prints, Ukiyo-e, 1963, no. 674
Klaus J. Brandt, Hosoda Eishi: 1756-1829, 1977, p. 13, cat. no. 198