1915. Item #90512
[Kakemono 掛け物 - Hanging Scroll] [Fireflies in Reeds]
Kakemono 掛け物 (hanging scroll) has a stenciled ribbon within the stenciled “fabric” border at the top 43 x 48.7cm. The main design is 183 x 48.7cm and the stenciled “fabric” border at the bottom is 24 x 47.7cm. The scroll was created by a dyeing house in Kyoto and done on a single sheet of silk with remarkable yūzen 友禅 dyeing and katazome 型染 stencil techniques that give the illusion of a painting mounted on fabric. It is generally thought that these scrolls were produced for or commissioned by preferred customers and given as gifts.
The scroll depicts a scene that includes what was also called a kakemono 懸物. Here it refers to a fragrant, curative talisman ball made of leaves and flowers with aromatic herbs tucked inside it. The kakemono is hanging in the right hand corner of the scroll and decorated with ribbons, which was common, and large pink and red flowers. They were often hung in doorways and on verandas to ward off disease, hence the term “kakemono” (kake 懸, hanging and mono 物, thing). The stenciled border of reeds hides fireflies, and more are scattered across the image. One firefly is within the image of an uchiwa hand fan that is decorated with a cat batting at the illuminated bug; a lovely design-within-a-design.
Kakemono 懸物 date to at least as far back as the 11th century and are mentioned in the classic Heian period work, The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari 源氏物語) by Murasaki Shikibu 紫式部. There are allusions to chapters in the book in the portrayal of a cat and fireflies on the scroll. In Chapter 25, Fireflies (Hotaru 蛍), Genji releases fireflies to momentarily illuminate the figure of a lovely woman with whom he is trying to match his son. In Chapter 34, New Herbs I (Wakana 若菜), the distraction of a cat in the room causes a bamboo screen to be pushed open to reveal Genji’s new wife, who is seen by the son of Genji’s close friend and rival. In the Heian period, ladies were hidden away from men behind screens, blinds and fans, so the scene of a woman’s face and figure being revealed is a memorable one.
The Tale of Genji was so well known among educated circles that there was no need for a title or explanatory notes; the recipient, likely a patron of the arts, would immediately recognize the classical references.
Housed in a wooden box 57.5 x 7.5 x 7.5cm which is in a modern box 60 x 8 x 8cm. Scant light foxing. Fine condition. A wonderful example of a stenciled scroll with hidden significance.