Kuniyoshi: Yoshitsune Training in Martial Arts with the Tengu (Sold)

  • Sold.

Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861)
Title: Yoshitsune Training with the Tengu King Sojobo (Minamoto no Ushiwaka Maru Sojobo no shitagau bujutsu wo)

The young Yoshitsune (Ushiwakamaru) trains with the Tengu King and his cohort of birdlike tengu in his hidden forest lair on Mount Karuma. We see Yoshitsune high in the air at right, his wooden practice sword just having knocked away the wooden sword of one tengu, who flies backwards in astonishment. A second tengu is on the downstroke, also having missed his target. The tengu have birdlike wings but wear human clothes, although their 3-clawed feet are unshod. Their birdlike beaks also have rows of pointy teeth. The Tengu King Sojobo sits mountainlike upon his wide nest, grasping something magical in his clawed hands. A primitive standing torch wafts flames and smoke into the air; night must be falling. At left wee see Yoshitsune’s attendant Kisanda, holding his master’s sword. Minamoto no Yoshitsune is one of the most famous warriors in Japanese history, and a perennial favorite subject for Kuniyoshi. Here we see Yoshitsune training in swordmanship, as these bird-tengu are famous for their skills in the martial arts;  here we see how adept their student has become. This is an early impression, with the extra bokashi on the rocks at left, and a layer of mica applied to some areas as well.

Condition: Excellent impression. Very good color and condition. Some trimming of leftmost sheet and minor binding holes at right of rightmost sheet.
Dimensions: ôban triptych (36 x 75 cm)
Publisher: Enshû-ya Hikobei
Literature: “Kuniyoshi: The Warrior Prints” by BW Robinson, number T264. Bidwell, 1968, no. 53; Bidwell, 1980, no. 174; Suzuki, 1992, no. 96. See British Museum for the Arthur Miller collection example.
Seal: Censor’s seals Murata-Mera
Signature: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga with his paulownia seal