Female, Japanese, Nature

Murasaki

Murasaki will probably be familiar to many as the author of the Tale of Genji, often considered to be the first world’s first novel written in eleventh century Japan (though there’s debate on that); Murasaki Shikibu was a court lady who wrote Tale of Genji over several years though it wasn’t her real name, with Murasaki being a nickname while shikibu comes from her father’s post as a senior secretary in The Ministry of Ceremonial Affairs. Her real name is unknown but she is believed to have belonged to the Fujiwara clan (a powerful family related to the royal family that had lost much of its influence by the time of Murasaki’s birth).

Murasaki is written with the kanji meaning “purple” and is the name of the purple gromwell or red-root gromwell (Lithospermum erythrorhizon); it may have been based on a pun of Fujiwara’s name since the first element of the name, fuji, is the name of the wisteria flower (which is a light purplish or lavender color). In Tale of Genji there is also a character named Murasaki. She is originally ten years-old when Genji first meets her; when he finds out she is the niece of the woman he loves but cannot have (his stepmother, Lady Fujitsubo), who resembles her aunt a great deal, he kidnaps her and raises her in the palace to be his ideal woman like Lady Fujitsubo; the fact that Murasaki and Fujitsubo’s names contain kanji which share a similar color doesn’t seem to be a coincidence but rather intentional.

There are other meanings to Mursasaki depending on the kanji used but the kanji seems to be the most popular. Written in hiragana it’s むらさき.

Origin: Japanese

Meaning: “purple”, also the name of the plant species L. erythrorhizon

Usage: Japanese

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