As aroma has an effect of attracting people, color also attracts people. A color has a meaning that expresses the state of the surface of things, but it also has a meaning that is related to affections between men and women. Here, I introduce the work on the affection of Nukata no Okimi and Ooamanomiko as well as the source of color, namely, pigment, in the Anthology of Myriad Leaves
. Nukata no Okimi and Ooamanomiko were in a romantic relationship, but she was pledged to be the wife of Emperor Tenji who is the older brother of Ooamanomiko. Although Nukata no Okimi became a married woman, her feelings towards the former lover, Ooamanomiko, do not change. In the Anthology of Myriad Leaves
, there is a phrase that Nukata no Okimi wrote for Ooamanomiko.
“You are going back and forth in the field covered by colorful gromwell and in the imperial hunting fields marked off with sacred ropes, waving your sleeves at me. It is awful if the field guard finds you acting like that.”
As a response, Ooamanomiko says, “I cannot have a bitter feeling towards you who is as beautiful as gromwell. If I have a bitter feeling, I can never be so crazy about you while knowing that you are a married woman.” You can read the painful feelings of the two for romance which will not be fulfilled.
In the novel written by Yasushi Inoue, Nukata no Okimi
(original title), there is a passage that says, “Nukata heard that roots of gromwell are used for a purple dye, but when she was watching small white flowers, she could not imagine purple.” Gromwell’s roots contain purple pigment called shikonin. Akanesasu
is a poetic epithet of purple, but Akane
(madder) itself is also a plant, and a red dye called alizarin is extracted from its roots. Shikonin and alizarin are chemically quinone dyes. I feel romance as the poems read by a man and a woman of ancient Japan have something to do with substances of a common chemical structure by a curious coincidence. Incidentally, the story of the triangular relationship between Ooamanomiko, Nakanoooenooji (Emperor Tenji) and Nukata no Okimi is performed at Takarazuka Revue Company under the title, “Akanesasu Purple Flower.”
Figure 2. Structural formulas of shikonin and alizarin