Warriors Matched with Chapters in the Tale of Genji: Minamoto no Yoshi’ie Matched with “The Sekiya” Chapter

Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi 歌川国芳 (1798-1861)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, 1846
Ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 36.9 x 16.9 cm (14 1/2 x 6 5/8 in)
Credit Line
The Anne van Biema Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Woodblock print

Anne van Biema collection, cherry, cherry blossom, cherry tree, Edo period (1615 - 1868), horse, Japan, poems, tanzaku, The Tale of Genji, ukiyo-e, warrior
Provenance research underway.

This print from a series by Kuniyoshi, the preeminent designer of warrior prints in the 1840s, pairs historical warriors with chapters of the eleventh-century literary classic, The Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari). Here, chapter sixteen, "The Gatehouse" (Sekiya) is indicated by the bold symbol and inscription in the frame at the top. In this chapter, Prince Genji meets his former lover, Utsusemi, by chance at the Osaka Barrier. The adjacent square cartouche has a poem not from The Tale of Genji, but composed by the warrior Minamoto no Yoshi'ie (1039-1106) as he passed through the Nakoso Barrier after a punitive campaign in the northern territories. In contrast to many of his warrior images, which portray martial skills, Kuniyoshi's image of Yoshi'ie focuses on the warrior's literary achievement. The poem reads:

Although I thought
that the blowing wind would not come
to the Barrier of Nakoso,
the mountain cherries fall so
that they make the path narrow.

Translation of poem by Joshua S. Mostow

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 125, pp. 304-305.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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