My submission for the Ladies of Literature zine! I chose to depict Lady Murasaki Shikibu, a lady of the imperial court in Japan during the Heian period. Not much is known about her for sure, but she is credited with writing The Diary of Lady Murasaki and The Tale of Genji, both of which detailed the courtly life at the time.
I was inspired by Heian paintings and chose to incorporate a similar gold leaf detail in the scroll, as well as by the Chinese (later adopted Japan) legend of the Red String of Fate. Since Murasaki’s greatest work, Genji, is an epic tale connecting dozens of characters together by blood, marriage, or both, the red string seemed fitting. I chose to depict her in a kimono matching her name (Murasaki = purple), though the patterns used for her layered garment are much more modern than what she might have worn. Genji is considered to be a true epic, and the storytelling style and content in Genji are not too far off from how stories are written in modern times — even though Lady Murasaki penned it over 1000 years ago — so I wanted to show that she has stood the test of time.