The Fujitsubo iPhone case desgin is one of our most popular in our catalogue. The unique maki-e art quickly grasps attention, but what most people don’t know is – the designs carries rich history in itself.
The name is based on the character, Empress Fujitsubo – from the classic Japanese literature – Tale of genji. While she only appears in the first half of the story, she influences what transpires to the lead character.
The Tale of Genji is written by Murasaki Shikibu, during the Heian period (794-1185). Murasaki was a renowned female novelist, despite coming from an era where it’s rare to be a completely literate women. As well as creating literary work, she also served as a lady in waiting to Empress Shōshi at the Imperial court.
Women at the time were generally confined to house-work duties. Reading about tragic love stories, set in the imperial life, allowed them to escape their ordinary lives.
The Tale of Genji is set during one of Japan’s most polygamous eras. IT follows the life of Hikaru Genji – son of Emperor Kiritsubo and his most favoured wife, Lady Kiritsubo.
Genji goes through two traumatic milestones which in set the foundation to his life. The first being his mother’s untimely death during his childhood. The other is his demotion of royalty status by his father. Despite the two tragedies in his life – he grows up to be well educated, personable, and even handsome. Because of his good traits, women fall in love with him, and he quickly becomes known as a playboy.
Fujitsubo is first introduced into the story when the emperor hears of her resemblance to his deceased wife. He seeks her out and weds her, thus becoming Genji’s stepmother despite being only 5 years his senior.
Because of the closeness in age, Genji sees her as a sister rather than a mother. However, as their relationship grows, Genji’s fondness for her leads him to fall in love. Fujitsubo falls in love with Genji too, but knowing the consequences, buries her feelings inside.
Even if they wished too – adult men and women were not permitted to meet in private during this era. Because of this Genji and Fujitsubo had no way to express their love for one another.
As they continue to struggle with their denied love, Emperor Kiritsubo arranges a marriage for Genji. Even this isn’t enough to lead his feelings away from Fujitsubo.
One day, not being able to resist each other anymore, they both finally assert their love in secrecy. The forbidden consummation leads to the birth of a son. To protect her son, Fujitsubo claims him as the emperor’s own.
To conceal her crime, Fujitusbo decides to break the life threatening affair with Genji, and become a monk. By doing this she cuts off all ties to the world – and ultimately ends her forbidden affair.
Denying her love for Genji tore Fujitsubo apart. She still loved Genji, and he too loved her back, but the fear of what would happen to her child was too much to bare.
Her role in the story depicts the suppression that commonly happens to Japanese lovers in the past and present. Although the fate of these star crossed lovers frustrates readers, it holds true to Japanese culture.
As a token to Fujitsubo’s tragic life, we re-envisioned her in our maki-e ‘Fujitsubo’ iPhone case designs. They’re not just beautiful phone cases but a symbolic piece of art.