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Portrait of the poetess, Saigu no Nyogo Yoshiko
13th century

Fujiwara no Nobuzane , (Japanese, 1176?-1265?)
Kamakura period

Ink and color on paper
H: 122.4 W: 69.4 D: 63.9 cm
Japan

Purchase F1950.24

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Imperial princess Saigu no Nyogo (929–985), one of the few women among the Thirty-six Immortal Poets, is shown in this imaginary portrait reclining behind a curtain. Her face is barely visible among multilayered garments and her long, flowing hair. A lacquer box for writing equipment, decorated in gold, lies open on the ledge of the platform beneath her tatami.

A biography of the princess written in Chinese characters is followed by one of her poems in two lines of cursive hiragana:

With the sound of the koto
The wind in the pines of the mountain peak
Seems to communicate
With which note shall I begin?