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The Establishment of the Saga-bon Iconography to The Ise Tales and Its Significance

Joshua Mostow

University of  British Columbia 

The Saga-bon edition of The Ise Tales (Ise monogatari) was the first printed illustrated work of Japanese belles-lettres. Many scholars have believed that the iconography of this edition, published in 1608, derives either from the Tosa school of painters, or reflects a tradition of representation that gradually coalesced during the late medieval period. In this presentation, I will argue that, on the contrary, the Saga-bon edition availed itself of models from a variety of sources and that, consequently, the codification of Ise iconography found in the Saga-bon is a unique, early modern creation. What choices did the Saga-bon producers make in their selection of episodes to illustrate and images to use and what can this tell us about what The Ise Stories meant in early seventeenth-century Kyoto? This talk will aim to answer these questions.

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