Medium and Support:
Gift of Dr. Paul S. Anderson
12 13/16 in. x 8 5/8 in. (32.54 cm x 21.91 cm)
A revered scholar and poet who rose to prominence in Japan’s imperial Heian court, Sugawara no Michizane (845–903) died in the remote province where he had been exiled as a result of court conspiracies. When his enemies at court began to die untimely deaths and the capital besieged by thunder, lightning, and other natural disasters, an oracle determined that the ghost of Sugawara no Michizane needed to be appeased. A shrine was built in his honor and he was deified as Tenjin, a god of thunder.
In 1746 a play called Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy premiered in Osaka’s puppet theater, and it was so popular and moving that a contemporary source states that the price of tissues rose markedly. The following year it was adopted for the Kabuki theater.
Last Updated: 8/5/2011