K263 Eggplants by Ōtagaki Rengetsu 大田垣蓮月

yo no naka niminonari ideteomou koto
nasu wa medetaki
nani koso agakere

In this world of ours,
splendid ripe eggplants
come to mind
when we think of
a good harvest.

名尓こそ あか介れ 多き ことな須ハめて なりいておもう 世のなかにミの 蓮月

Ōtagaki Rengetsu (大田垣蓮月, 1791-1875)


hanging scroll, sumi on paper 30.5 cm × 33.2 cm.

There is a word play in the poem with nasu meaning a ripe, nicely shaped, good tasting eggplant and nasu meaning to do (accomplish) something you have as your goal. Deep purple eggplants grow quickly and lushly just about everywhere in any kind of soil, and they are cheap and delicious. Human beings too should bloom were they are planted and come to fruition. Rengetsu loved eggplants and painted them often, always in a pair, symbolizing a happy couple—it is always best to accomplish something in conjunction with others. The two eggplants painted here indeed look especially close. Judging from the signature, this fine piece dates from Rengetsu’s early 60s.