Female peddler from Ohara
Scroll, ink on paper, mounting on silk
Sengai Gibon (1750-1837)
26 ×74 cm (31.5 x 162.5 cm)
もの思ふ 我にみばやせや 大原女の
MONO OMOU WAGAMI WA YASEYA OHARAME NO
MIYAKO NO HITO NI SINOBU URUKANA
もの思ふ 我が身は やせや
Me, peasant of Ohara, with the spirit in affliction, the emaciated body,
I will sell to the people of Kyoto my pain / my beautiful ferns
(translation by professeur Akama 赤間 亮 教授 )
Oharame means female peddlers who were in Ohara of Kyoto since the Medieval Period. They put firewood on the head and sold it in the center of Kyoto. How they wore, as they wore the towels on the head or so, was one of the famous sceneries in Kyoto. A poem written in the end of the Heian period says that Oharame’s voice impressed the residents of the capital (Kyoto) a lot.
Over two fagots, we see two “tsurishinobi“: Polypodiaceae, ie ornamental ferns in weeping. In Japanese “shinobu” also means: keep the heart, yearn, suffer patiently, and endure. There is a play on words.
According to Professor Sugimoto Hidetaro it would be a kyōka (狂歌) a “mad poetry” of Nakajima Sōin (1779(?)-1855), (中 岛 棕 隠), a literate poet, Confucian, from Kyoto, who sang Gion, the district of teahouses and geishas, located on the east bank of the Kamogawa, in the collection of poems ōtōshijizatsushi (鴨東 四 時 雑詞 おうとう し じざつし).
This literary movement developed around the middle of the Edo period and enjoyed consistent success, resulting in a high quality production. These are pastiches of classical poetry, classical paintings, born initially at gatherings of intellectuals cultivated, nourished of Chinese and Japanese classical literature. References hidden, quirky humor, literary culture, polysemic texts … are the characteristics, far from the polite society of Edo and Kyoto.