MAO - Museo d’Arte Orientale verified

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closed Samurai, poets and ingenuity men

The show

The MAO Japan gallery changes its appearance again!

For reasons of protection and conservation, the kakemono and ukiyo-e, the paper prints, are in fact periodically put to rest and replaced with other works from our collections, offering the visitor the opportunity to admire a constantly renewed exhibition.


The new rotation starts from the male figure in Japan as it emerges from the pictorial works of the Edo period (1603-1868). On the one hand, the martial ideal of the bushi, the men of arms, with their symbols: the birds of prey and the cherry blossom. On the other hand, the ideal of the man of letters who is more or less directly inspired by the figures of famous poets and talented men of the Chinese tradition.



The first group includes a diptych by Kanō Chikanobu (1660-1728), which depicts two samurai on horseback, and a flowering cherry branch by Kawamura Bunpō (1779-1821). The saying “Among the flowers, the cherry tree. Among men the samurai ”refers to the beauty and transience of earthly life: just as the cherry tree blossoms and fades in a very short time, the life of the warrior can be intense but fleeting. At the same time, a metaphor for the ferocity and precision of the Japanese warrior finds its fulfillment in birds of prey such as the hawk or the sea eagle, the latter object of a powerful painting by Yanagisawa Kien (1704-1758).


On the side of the intellectual man there is a painting of writers dressed in the Chinese manner signed by Kishi Ganku (1749 or 1756-1838) and a diptych depicting Li Bai and Su Shi, considered in Japan as the most representative poets in the history of China. , belonging respectively to the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) periods.


At the same time as the rotation of the paintings in the main room on the second floor, the ukiyo-e prints will be replaced in the corridor and in the next room. Another ideal of a male character appears here, dating back to the Heian period (794-1185). He materializes in the first half of the series "Murasaki Shikibu Genji Karuta" (The Cards of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu), a nineteenth-century parody of the famous novel Genji Monogatari dating back to the eleventh century, which tells the story of the "Shining Prince" Genji: a sort of Don Giovanni or Casanova Japanese ante litteram.

Timetable and tickets


Via San Domenico, 9-11
10100 Torino


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