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    Sale 7432

    Japanese Prints, including The B.W. Robinson Collection

    7 November 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 586

    Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861)

    Price Realised  


    Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861)
    Soma no furudairi ai Masakado himegimi Takiyasha yojutsu o motte mikata o atsumuru [In the Ruined Palace at Soma Masakado's Daughter Takiyasha Uses Sorcery to Gain Allies]

    Mitsukuni defying the skeleton spectre conjured up by Princess Takiyasha, signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi, censor's seal Watari, good impression, colours and condition, some wear and creasing
    Oban tate-e triptych

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    The depiction here is taken from the book Uto Yasukata chugi-den [Story on the Loyalty of Uto Yasukata], written by Santo Kyoden (1761-1816). The legend tells that Princess Takiyasha was the daughter on Taira no Masakado, who had died in the year 940 during an unsuccessful rebellion. At some point she and her stepbrother met Nikushisen, a spirit, whose powers helped them in forming a rebellion. They go to Soma Palace (which belonged to their father) to enact their plan. However, a retainer of Minamoto Yorinobu, Oya Taro Mitsukuni, discovered the plot and finally defeats the princess and her stepbrother at the palace.

    In Kuniyoshi's depiction of this legend, the ghost appears dramatically as a giant skeleton, drawing back a torn bamboo blind to haunt Mitsukuni. The princess looks on, chanting a spell.

    The inscription reads:
    At the old palace of Soma, Takiyasha, the daughter of Masakao, gathered her allies by witchcraft. Oya Taro Mitsukuni went there to test the demons and eventually destroyed her.1

    1. Stephen Addiss, Japanese Ghosts and Demons, (New York, 1985), p.16

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    B.W.Robinson, Kuniyoshi, The Warrior Prints (Oxford, 1982), pl.52