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Tile Kilns and Hashiba Ferry, Sumida River (Sumidagawa Hashiba no Watashi Kawaragawa), No. 37 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige

Asian Art

An ancient literary reference is evoked in this scene viewed from the yard of a tile-maker. The small white gulls in the foreground are miyakodori, or capital birds. Their fame dates back to an episode in the tenth-century epic Tales of Ise, in which some travelers from Kyoto spot an unfamiliar bird while crossing the Sumida River. Learning from the ferryman that it is a capital bird, one lonely courtier composes this verse:

If you are what your name implies,
Let me ask you, Capital-bird, 
Does all go well
With my beloved?

Translation by Helen McCullough

MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 4th month of 1857
    PERIOD Edo Period, Ansei Era
    DIMENSIONS Sheet: 14 1/4 x 9 7/16 in. (36.2 x 23.9 cm) Image: 13 3/8 x 9 in. (33.9 x 22.9 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Publisher: Shitaya Uo Ei
    SIGNATURE Hiroshige-ga
    ACCESSION NUMBER 30.1478.37
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Anna Ferris
    PROVENANCE Prior to 1930, provenance not yet documented; by 1930, acquired by Anna Ferris of Summit, NJ; 1930, gift of Anna Ferris to the Brooklyn Museum.
    Provenance FAQ
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION A view of the yard of one of the tile-makers of the Imado area. Note the rounded shapes of the kilns; between the kilns are the pine needles used to fire them. The kilns were also used for making "imadoyaki," small ceramic figurines for offerings at nearby shrines. There are cherry trees in the distance to the right (see print 35 of the series), and on the Sumida River are two ferryboats around the location of the modern Shirahige Bridge. The cluster of yellow huts, just right of center, is the ferry landing at Mukojima. The white and gray birds in the foreground are the "capital birds," or "miyakodori," which even today are seen in this area. Their fame dates back to the tenth century when verses were composed about them in "Tales of Ise."
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858). Tile Kilns and Hashiba Ferry, Sumida River (Sumidagawa Hashiba no Watashi Kawaragawa), No. 37 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 4th month of 1857. Woodblock print, Sheet: 14 1/4 x 9 7/16 in. (36.2 x 23.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.37 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 30.1478.37_PS20.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 30.1478.37_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2023
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