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Maple Trees at Mama, Tekona Shrine and Linked Bridge, No. 94 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo

Utagawa Hiroshige

Asian Art

Although Mama was over ten miles east of central Edo, the beauty of its autumn maples was so famous that it was worth the trip. In earlier times, its fame centered on a particular tree of great size. Though only the stump remained in Hiroshige's day, he may possibly be alluding to that tree in his use of a single large forked trunk to frame the view. He emphasizes the scenic beauty of Mama with the dominant leaves in the center foreground, their glorious orange color—produced with red lead or iron oxide— unfortunately blackened with age. Beyond the maples of Mama lie the shrine and bridge of the title, which were less important as sites to be visited than as places that for centuries had enjoyed a life of their own in Japanese literature.

MEDIUM Woodblock print
  • Place Made: Japan
  • DATES 1st month of 1857
    PERIOD Edo Period, Ansei Era
    DIMENSIONS Sheet: 14 3/16 x 9 1/4 in. (36 x 23.5 cm) Image: 13 3/8 x 8 3/4 in. (34 x 22.2 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS No publisher's seal visible - probably lost when left margin was trimmed.
    SIGNATURE Hiroshige-ga
    ACCESSION NUMBER 30.1478.94
    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 Mama was over ten miles east of central Edo, on the far side of the Edogawa River in the present city of Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture. It was known for the beauty of its autumn maples, their glorious orange color here unfortunately blackened with age (see print 88 for a discussion of the ink pigment). Beyond the maple trees lay the shrine and bridge mentioned in the title, which enjoyed a life of their own in Japanese literature. The literary fame of Mama dates back to Japan's first great poetry anthology, the Man'yoshu, particularly to the tale of Tekona, the beautiful country maid who was so harassed by suitors that she threw herself into the waters of Mama in desperation. In 1501, the seventh abbot of Guhoji consecrated the small shrine to Tekona that Hiroshige has depicted here to the lower left, partly hidden by the tree trunk. The shrine had progressed in Hiroshige's time from a literary to a religious landmark. The worship of Tekona was believed to aid in childbirth and in the cure of chickenpox. The shrine survives today, although the surrounding area is now densely settled. In the center of the print, beyond the Tekona Shrine, is another legacy of the Man'yoshu, the Linked Bridge of Mama, over which one of Tekona's suitors came to woo her. The forms of the distant mountains shown here are those of Mount Tsukuba.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858). Maple Trees at Mama, Tekona Shrine and Linked Bridge, No. 94 from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo, 1st month of 1857. Woodblock print, Sheet: 14 3/16 x 9 1/4 in. (36 x 23.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Anna Ferris, 30.1478.94 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 30.1478.94_PS20.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 30.1478.94_PS20.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2023
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