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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Shiōren Sajima-no-kami Masataka (四王連左可馬頭政高), #29 (廿九)
from the series Heroes of the Great Peace (Taiheiki eiyūden - 太平記英勇傳)

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Dates: circa 1848 - 1849,created
Dimensions: 9.875 in,14.5 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print
Inscription: Signed: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
一勇斎国芳画
Artist's seal: kiri
Publisher: Yamamotoya Heikichi
(Marks 595 - seal 04-007)
Censor seals: Mera and Murata
Number 29: 廿九

Related links: British Museum; Tokyo Metropolitan Library - Yoshiiku's 1867 version of this same figure;

Physical description:

In the early nineteenth century Tsuruya Namboku IV wrote a play for Matsumoto Koshirō IV. It was called Toki wa ima kikkyo no hataage (時今也桔梗旗揚) or 'The Standard of Revolt'. It dealt with the events leading up to the death of Oda Nobunaga. "In this play the character of Mitsuhide is on the whole a sympathetic one, but in the more famous Ehon Taikoki...he is depicted as a complete villain. This is because his motive in killing Harunaga [the historical Oda Nobunaga] was not simply to avenge the insults heaped on him. If he had killed Harunaga and then committed suicide, he would have been a hero. Because he wished to seize Harunaga's power he is a villain."

Quoted from: The Kabuki Handbook by Aubrey and Giovanna Halford, p. 335.

Akechi Mitsuhide, a former ronin, became a retainer of Nobunaga, but in time tensions developed between them. Nobunaga worried about Mitsuhide's ambitions and Mitsuhide worried about threats to his possessions and stature. This led to Nobunaga's death. The same fate came to Nobunaga's son and favorite page.

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The British Museum describes this print as "Shioren Sajima-no-kami Masataka holding up a scroll of Buddhist scripture with his spear."

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The name Shiōren can also be read as Shiōden. Masataka was a vassal of Akechi Mitsuhide. He was sent to stop or slow down Hideyoshi who was marching toward an attack on Akechi in Kyoto.