Layered Meanings: Rai San'yo's Poem about Gion Nankai's Painted Robe

In 1975, the Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired more than four hundred works of Japanese art from collector Harry G. C. Packard (1914-1991), by gift and purchase. The acquisition instantly transformed the Museum into an institution boasting one of the finest collections of its kind in the West, with encyclopedic holdings from the Neolithic period through the nineteenth century. Five Thousand Years of Japanese Art: Treasures from the Packard Collection celebrates the thirty-fifth anniversary of the acquisition of the Packard Collection, showcasing its archaeological artifacts, Buddhist iconographic scrolls, ceramics, screen paintings of the Momoyama and Edo periods, and sculptures of the Heian and Kamakura periods.

Sadako Ohki speaks about the poem Rai San'yô was commissioned to write about a robe painted by Gion Nankai, the relationship between the two artists, and the entwined history of the two works. Ohki's investigation of the kanshi poem—a poem composed of Chinese characters—considers the exquisite calligraphy and the characters' double entendres, ultimately revealing the poem's sensual undertones.

Lecture by Sadako Ohki, The Japan Foundation, Associate Curator of Japanese Art, Yale University Art Gallery; introduced by Sinead Kehoe, assistant curator, Japanese Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Learn more about Gion Nankai's Overrobe (Uchikake) with Bamboo:

Learn more about Rai San'yô's Poem Accompanying an Overrobe (Uchikake) with Bamboo:

Learn more about the Asian Art collections at the Met:

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