Yoshiiku: Mongaku Doing Penance Beneath Nachi Waterfall (Sold)

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Artist: Utagawa Yoshiiku (1833-1904)
Title: Mongaku Doing Penance Beneath the Waterfall  (Mongaku Shonin文覚上人)
Date: 1864
Series: Modern Parodies of  Genji  Chapter 40 (Imayoo nazorae genji 40 今様擬源氏 四十)

Mongaku has an intently focused expression as he earnestly clasps his hands together, his head directly under the icy crush of the falling Nachi River. It is said that he spent three years (or weeks) doing penance under this freezing waterfall to atone for his misdeeds, including the murder of his lover, Kesa Gozen. Seitaka and Kongara, attendants of Fudô Myô-ô, offer their spiritual assistance from above, indicating that perhaps he has suffered enough.

The text on the above folding page at  left may be translated: “Monk Mongaku, when he used the common name Endô Moritô 遠藤盛遠 as a warrior, had a religious awakening. First he was called Sei-ami  盛阿弥, and later lived in the temple Jingo-ji神護寺in Kyoto. Then he undertook religious ascetic exercise under a waterfall of Nachi. It is considered to be the pinnacle of courageous deeds.” (It is interesting to note that no mention of his misdeeds is mentioned here, only his courage.)

The exact dates of Endô Moritô/ Mongaku of the Shingon Sect of Buddhism are unknown,  but it is said that he lived in about the 12th century. Yoshiiku’s teacher Kuniyoshi designed some very famous prints of this scene, as did Yoshitoshi, Yoshiiku’s colleague.

The series title is designed with folding pages of The Tale of Genji as the title cartouche, above. Here the title of Chapter 40 reads “Minori 御法”as The Genji incense symbol shows right above. In this chapter, Genji  and Lady Akashi visit Lady Murasaki-no-ue, who had been gravely ill and wished to be a nun. The text on the right page is possibly a quotation from the Tale of Genji itself.

Condition: Very good impression, color and condition. With repaired binding holes left margin and minor restored wormage right margin.
Dimensions: ôban 24.7 x 36.2 cm
Signed: Ikkeisai Yoshiiku ga