The tale of the Bamboo Cutter is the oldest Japanese work of prose fiction, written in the early Heian period (794-1185). It is one of the most important stories in Japanese classical courtly literature and is well known for its influence on later Japanese literary works.
The Chester Beatty Bamboo Cutter scrolls, dating to the early seventeenth century, are believed to be the earliest surviving illustrated version of the tale. They are representative of the long tradition in Japanese narrative handscrolls (emakimono) of alternating paintings with exquisite cursive text. This pair of scrolls, recognized as a masterpiece from a Kano School artist of the early Edo period (1600-1867), merges elements of Chinese painting with the decorativeness, colour and pattern of Japanese painting.
With the generous support of The Sumitomo Foundation, the scrolls have recently undergone two years of extensive specialist conservation in the Restorient Studio in the Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden. This exhibition provides a unique opportunity for visitors to enjoy the scrolls on their return to Dublin.