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Battles at Ichi-no-tani Mountain and Yashima, from Tale of the Heike
平家物語図屏風 江戸時代 紙本金地着色
Place of Origin: Japan
Date: 1650-1700
Historical Period: Edo period (1615-1868)
Object Name: Six panel folding screen
Materials: Ink, colors and gold on paper
Dimensions: H. 60 in x W. 140 in, H. 152.5 cm x W. 354.3 cm
Credit Line: The Avery Brundage Collection
Department: Japanese Art
Collection: Painting
Object Number: B80D2
On Display: No

Description

Label: Though based on historical events, many of Japan’s most popular war tales glorified and romanticized the heroic deeds of warriors. The Tale of the Heike, the greatest of such war epics, recounts the wars between two powerful clans, the Heike and the Genji (also known as the Taira and the Minamoto). This folding screen illustrates two famous battles between the clans. Viewers at the time when the screen was painted would have been familiar with details of the story, summarized here:

Minamoto Yoshitsune, the great Genji general, had led his cavalry to the edge of a steep cliff at Ichi-no-tani to a surprise attack on rival Heike clan members from the rear. The cliff was too steep for horses to descend, but some deer running down the slope showed a path. Yoshitsune led on his horse at full gallop. Eyes closed, the tense riders followed him, encouraging their horses in muffled voices (top of the third panel from the right). On seeing the Genji troops, the panic-stricken Heike warriors fled into the sea in an effort to save themselves, and some succeeded in reaching Yashima on the island of Shikoku. The Genji pursued the Heike to Yashima (lower part of the screen). Some Heike survivors fled on ships (at left) through the inland sea to Dannoura (in what is now Shimonoseki) and their eventual downfall.
— Adapted from The Tales of the Heike, Stanford University Press, 1988

As is typical in many screens of The Tale of the Heike, the scenes are rendered with gold and brilliant colors in a lavish decorative manner, minimizing the ferocity and bloodiness of the warfare depicted.
Label: Though based on historical events, many of Japan’s most popular war tales glorified and romanticized the heroic deeds of warriors. The Tale of the Heike, the greatest of such war epics, recounts the wars between two powerful clans, the Heike and the Genji (also known as the Taira and the Minamoto). This folding screen illustrates two famous battles between the clans. Viewers at the time when the screen was painted would have been familiar with details of the story, summarized here:

Minamoto Yoshitsune, the great Genji general, had led his cavalry to the edge of a steep cliff at Ichi-no-tani to a surprise attack on rival Heike clan members from the rear. The cliff was too steep for horses to descend, but some deer running down the slope showed a path. Yoshitsune led on his horse at full gallop. Eyes closed, the tense riders followed him, encouraging their horses in muffled voices (top of the third panel from the right). On seeing the Genji troops, the panic-stricken Heike warriors fled into the sea in an effort to save themselves, and some succeeded in reaching Yashima on the island of Shikoku. The Genji pursued the Heike to Yashima (lower part of the screen). Some Heike survivors fled on ships (at left) through the inland sea to Dannoura (in what is now Shimonoseki) and their eventual downfall.
— Adapted from The Tales of the Heike, Stanford University Press, 1988

As is typical in many screens of The Tale of the Heike, the scenes are rendered with gold and brilliant colors in a lavish decorative manner, minimizing the ferocity and bloodiness of the warfare depicted.