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Mitate of Emperor Xuanzong and Yang Guifei: Gallery Label - Current


Minneapolis Institute of Arts



Institution Minneapolis Institute of Arts
A favorite device among early ukiyo-e artists was to reference a historical event or person in a contemporary setting. Here, the depiction of two young lovers playing a single flute suggests the story of Xuanzong, the sixth emperor of China's Tang dynasty. Among his many consorts was a woman known as Yang Guifei. In addition to her physical beauty, Yang Guifei was a gifted singer, dancer, and musician. In a moment of jealousy, the emperor is said to have banished Yang Guifei when he discovered her playing another man's flute. Unable to endure her absence, however, the emperor eventually recalled her to court. The playful affection between the two lovers is suggested in this print, as well as the harmony implicit in their reconciliation.

This print also contains a secret calendar. The manner in which the leaves of bamboo cross on the woman's kimono designate the long and short months of the lunar calendar.

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Source: Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Rights: Copyright Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Added to Site: March 10, 2009