• Yoshitsune and his twenty one retainers on a ship (<i>Yoshitsune no kenin ikki-tosen no niju-ikki no zu</i> - 義経之家人一騎当千廾一騎之図)
Yoshitsune and his twenty one retainers on a ship (<i>Yoshitsune no kenin ikki-tosen no niju-ikki no zu</i> - 義経之家人一騎当千廾一騎之図)
Yoshitsune and his twenty one retainers on a ship (<i>Yoshitsune no kenin ikki-tosen no niju-ikki no zu</i> - 義経之家人一騎当千廾一騎之図)

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳) (artist 11/15/1797 – 03/05/1861)

Yoshitsune and his twenty one retainers on a ship (Yoshitsune no kenin ikki-tosen no niju-ikki no zu - 義経之家人一騎当千廾一騎之図)

Print


ca 1836
9.625 in x 14.375 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese color woodblock print
Signed: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
一勇斎国芳画
Publisher: Izumiya Ichibei
(Marks 180 - seal 21-236)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - a similar triptych
British Museum - also similar
Mead Art Museum, Amherst - similar
Waseda University - right panel
Waseda University - center panel
Waseda University - left panel
Marega Collection in the Library of the Università Pontificia Salesiana - via Ritsumeikan University - right panel only
Marega Collection in the Library of the Università Pontificia Salesiana - via Ritsumeikan University - center panel only
Marega Collection in the Library of the Università Pontificia Salesiana - via Ritsumeikan University - left panel only Prominently displayed on the ship is the personal Minamoto clan crest, the sasarindō (笹竜胆).

Mark Griffiths wrote about the sasarindō on page 245 in his The Lotus Quest: In Search of the Sacred Flower: "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."

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Yoshitsune and his twenty-one retainers in a ship with Benkei at the prow ('Yoshitsune no kenin ikki-tosen no niju-ikki no zu').

Robinson T32

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In researching this triptych a number of curious points arose. For example, in the British Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston there are similar triptychs, but with different signatures, although they are all by Kuniyoshi. All three sheets in the Lyon Collection are signed "Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga" while the ones in Boston and London carry the signature Chōōro Kuniyoshi ga (朝櫻楼国芳画) on five of their six panels. Also, the triptychs in London and Boston carry the 'kiwame' censor's seal. Not only is there no 'kiwame' censor's seal present on the Lyon triptych, but there is no publisher's seal on the middle panel. There are printings of this triptych which include the artist's kiri seal, but not the ones here, in Boston or in London.

Even the title cartouche's are different. The Lyon Collection title is much longer than those on other printings which use the simpler and shorter Yoshitsune no jūku-shin (義経十九臣). There are other differences, too. A much closer inspection shows that the example in the Lyon Collection is from different blocks entirely, but based on exactly the same theme and layout.

Could any of this mean that the triptych shown here is the earlier version? There is no way to tell for sure, but it is interesting to speculate.

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Two characters identified by cartouches in the center panel are Kamei Rokurō Shigekiyo (亀井六郎重清) and Suruga no Jirō Kiyoshige (駿河次郎清重). They appear in other triptychs in the Lyon Collection. See #s 228 and 685. Others in this panel include Yoshitsune (源九郎判官義経) and Masuo no Jurō Kanefusa (増尾十郎兼房).

In the lower center of the right-hand panel are the cartouches for Kuroi Jirō Kagehisa (黒井治郎景久), untranslated (増尾十郎兼房).

In the left-hand panel is Musashibō Benkei (武蔵坊弁慶). With him are Satō Shirobei Tadanobu (佐藤四郎兵衛忠信) and Genpachirō Hirotsuna (源八郎弘綱).

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There is another copy of this triptych in the Fujisawa Ukiyo-e Museum.
Izumiya Ichibei (和泉屋市兵衛) (publisher)
warrior prints (musha-e - 武者絵) (genre)
Musashibō Benkei (武蔵坊弁慶) (role)
Minamoto no Yoshitsune (源義経) (role)