Details
The Ghosts of the Taira Attack Yoshitsune in Daimotsu Bay
Woodblock triptych, embellished with mica and gofun, each sheet signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga, published by Enshuya Hikobei, circa 1849-52
Oban triptych (each sheet approx. 36.4 x 24.6 cm.)



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Lot Essay

This powerful design fills the space allowed by the triptych format to brilliant affect. The work depicts the ghosts of the Taira family exacting revenge upon Minamoto Yoshitsune (1159-89) following their brutal defeat during a historic battle at Daimotsu bay. The ghosts of the Taira clan are hauntingly silhouetted against a dark sky as they attack Yoshitsune’s ship and the troops can be seen frantically lowering the boat’s sails as the gigantic waves rise up ominously around them. The noh play Funa Benkei [Benkei in the Boat] recounts this episode, which eventually ends well for Yoshitsune and his men due to Yoshitsune’s faithful retainer, the monk Benkei, who offers prayers to the gods of the sea, causing the angry ghosts to disappear and the storm to calm, allowing the ship to continue on its journey.

For another of the same print in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, accession number JP1565, go to:
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection

For two further examples of this print in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, accession numbers 11.30566a-c, 1992.568a-c, go to:
https://www.mfa.org/collections/search

For further reading and additional impressions see Robert Schaap, Heroes and Ghosts, (Amsterdam, 1998), p.101, and Yuriko Iwakiri and Amy Reigle Newland, Kuniyoshi: Japanese Master of Imagined Worlds, (Leiden, 2013), p.61
Post Lot Text
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