Login/Register

Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Akushichibyōe Kagekiyo (悪七兵衛景清) - Evening Bell at Tōdai-ji (Tōdai-ji banshō - 東大寺晩鐘) from the series Eight Views of Military Brilliance (Yōbu hakkei - 燿武八景)

Bookmark and Share
Dates: 1852,created
Dimensions: 9.75 in,14.25 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print
Inscription:

Signed: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
一勇斎国芳画
Artist's seal: kiri
Publisher Enshūya Hikobei (Marks 055 - seal 21-016)
Date seal: 7/1852
Censors' seals: Mera and Watanabe

Related links: British Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Victoria and Albert Museum; Lyon Collection - Fujiwara no Masakiyo from this series;Lyon Collection - Inagawa Yoshioto from this series;Lyon Collection - Suzuki Shigeyuki from this series;

Physical description:

Robert Schaap in his Heroes & Ghosts:Japanese Prints by Kuniyoshi 1797-1861 wrote: "Akushichibyōe Kagekiyo (Bad man of the seventh degree) Kagekiyo (died 1195), here seen in the black and grey clothes of a monk holding a naginata (spear). The scene refers to the legend that he went to Nara disguised as a priest with the intention to murder Minamoto Yoritomo (1147-99). He was however discovered and is said to have blinded himself in order to avoid seeing the triumph of his enemy.

This scene is compared with Vesper bell at Tōdaiji (temple) from the Eight views."

See also Robinson The Warrior Prints, p. 156.

****

I don't know if anyone has mentioned this before, and I haven't found any references to this as regards this specific print, but the character of Kagekiyo is standing either just outside the camp of Yoritomo as can be seen by the subtle display of the sasarindō (笹竜胆) motif displayed on the jinmaku (陣幕) or curtain. The sasarindō was Yoritomo's own personal crest and not even that of his clan, the Minamoto.

"The kamon, for example, of the Fujiwara clan shows two tresses of stylised wisteria (fuji) blossom, a visual pun on their name. The personal, rather than clan mon of Minamoto no Yoritomo was the sasarindō, a design in which three flowers of rindō (the Japanese gentian, Gentiana scabra or G. makinoi) sit above three leaves of the shrubby bamboo Sasa. The gentian was characteristic of the damp grassland flora of Southern Japan, while the bamboo was a signature plant of the North. This elegant posy is iconographic code for the shogun: the North is subjugated by the South; the country united under his military authority. The Heike clan took swallowtail butterfly as their badge, suitably flamboyant and fugacious for the high-rolling tribe routed by Yoritomo's Genji."

Quoted from: The Lotus Quest: In Search of the Sacred Flower by Mark Griffiths, p. 245.

****

There is another copy of this print in the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, Leiden.