Composed in the 12th century, the Tale of Genji Scroll (Gengi Monogatari Emaki) is the oldest extant example of monogatari scroll, a traditional Japanese literary form. The scroll illustrates and explains the plot of the Tale of Genji, a classic 11th-century Japanese narrative set in the courts of the Heian period.
The extant sections, consisting of 65 sheets of text, 19 paintings, and 9 pages of fragments, represent about 15 percent of the original artwork. The paintings were achieved by applying color to a black and white drawing, according to the tsukuri-e style.
While architectural features are depicted with a bird's eye view, in a highly realistic style known as hikime kagibana, characters' faces are often drawn in profile in a very stylized way. This technique, known as fukinuki yatai, allowed readers to form their own image of the tale's characters, who were not part of their everyday life. Facial expressiveness was achieved by enhancing the thickness of eyebrows, lips, and eyes.
The surviving sections, kept in Gotoh Museum in Tokyo and in the Tokugawa Art Museum in Nagoya, were originally part of a 450 feet long scroll containing over 100 paintings and more than 300 sheets of text.
We have 2 facsimiles of the manuscript "Tale of Genji Scroll":
- Genji Monogatari Emaki facsimile edition published by Maruzen-Yushodo Co. Ltd., 2003
- Die Geschichte vom Prinzen Genji facsimile edition published by Mueller & Schindler, 1973