Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861)
'The Rescue of Minamoto no Tametomo by Goblins'
Nishiki-e (brocade print), musha-e (warrior print)
Triptych, three ôban-size sheets
Signature: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga, Publisher: Sumiyoshiya Masagorô, Censorship seals: Mera and Watanabe
Museum no. E.10605-1886
Minamoto no Tametomo fought with his father in support of the retired emperor Sutoko and was defeated in the Hôgen Disturbance of 1156. The theme here is taken from an episode in the sequel to the long novel about Tametomo, 'Chinsetsu Yumiharizuki' (Crescent Moon: The Adventures of Tametomo), written by Takizawa Bakin.
In 1176, as Tametomo and his followers leave Higo Province on two boats, a typhoon hits them. When Tametomo is about to commit ritual suicide in despair, karasu-tengu (goblins) sent by the spirit Sanuki-in (the retired emperor Sutoku) stop him and stabilise the boat.
This print was embellished by a technique called gofun chirashi or 'gofun splattering' - gofun being made from finely ground oyster shells. This was used particularly in the rendering of snow, mist or spray.
Kuniyoshi's major productions in the genre of musha-e (warrior print) are in the triptych format, in which a unified composition is printed on three vertical ôban sheets arranged side by side. Such an arrangement was necessary because the size of the block was constrained by the narrowness of the cherry trees from which they were cut.
This print can be found in Japanese Print Room Box JP2.