Kumiko S. McKee - Koto

Gallery > Koto Series > Genji's Daughter

Genji's Daughter
Oil Painting on Masonite
28 x 48 inches


This is one of the paintings from my “The Tale of Genji” series. “The Tale of Genji” is a story based on the Court life in the Heian period (794 –1185 AD) in Japan and was written by Murasaki-Shikibu in the 11th century.

Summarized Story about Genji’s Daugther:

In the story, Genji is the son of the Emperor and he had only one daughter who was called “Akashi Princess”. Her mother is the daughter of a former provincial governor turned priest and is called “Akashi Lady”. One night in the second month of the year when her mother was born her grandfather had a dream. He held the blessed Syumisen (or Mount Sumeru) in his right hand. To the left and right of the mountain the moon and the sun poured dazzling radiance over the world. He was in the shadow of the mountain, not lighted by the radiance. When he lowered the mountain into the vast sea, he saw himself in a small boat rowing to the west. That was his dream. The Sun symbolizes the emperor, the moon symbolizes empress, and Sumeru is the central world-mountain in Buddhist cosmology. He realized that his dream was predicting that the future empress would come from his family and it would be his granddaughter. When his dream came closer to being realized, his daughter became one of Genji’s concubines and gave birth the Genji’s daughter. However, in the court during th Heian Period, the rank of the mother greatly influences a child’s future. Even when a child father is the Emperor himself, the mother’s hierarchy in life makes all the difference as was with the situation with Genji himself. Therefore, Genji makes a plan for what is best for his daughter and Genji’s favorite concubine, Murasaki, who has a higher status in the court, adopts her. Akashi Princess eventually becomes the Empress later on as the foreseen in the dream of her grandfather.

Details about the images in the background of the painting:

Note: Genji-e is a miniaturist style developed by Mitsuyoshi and Mistunori of the Tosa-school in the mid-15th century. Later on the Jyokei of the Sumiyoshi-school studied from them. Jyokei also produced a “Tale of Genji Album” after Tosa Mitsuyoshi and Mistunori and was influenced by them.