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Abe no Nakamaro Gazing At The Moon From A Terrace (1833)

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About the Art

The Japanese nobleman Abe no Nakamuro (698-770) sits on the terrace of a Chinese palace, gazing out at the moon, while attendants arrive with food.

At the age of 16, he accompanied a fellow Japanese envoy to China, to discover and return with the secrets of Chinese timekeeping. Although they received a welcome reception by the Chinese emperor, they were refused permission to return home, and were kept comfortably captive at the palace.

Nakamuro adapted well, and rose through the ranks, evenutally becoming a regional governor.

The scene represents Nakamaro's best-known poem, in which he expresses his desire to return to his home in Japan during a wistful moment of reflection.

"When I look over heaven's plain I wonder;
Is that the same moon that rose
Over Mount Mikasa in Kasuga?"

This print hails from the series: "A True Mirror of Chinese and Japanese Poems", published around 1833. A truly splendid series, it is known for its beautiful compositions, exceptional coloration and high-culture subjects. In each of the ten designs that Hokusai made for the collection, he depicted classical poets in landscapes that they knew or referenced in one of their poems.ย 

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