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UTAGAWA KUNIYOSHI (1797-1861)
UTAGAWA KUNIYOSHI (1797-1861)

Benkei drags up the great bell of the Miidera temple

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UTAGAWA KUNIYOSHI (1797-1861)
Benkei drags up the great bell of the Miidera temple
Woodblock print, from the series Shinyu kurabe (Comparisons of True Courage), signed Choro Juniyoshi ga, published by Mikawaya Tetsugoro circa 1845
Vertical nagaban: 20 x 7 3/8 in. (50.7 x 18.8 cm.)

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Lot Essay

Benkei’s famous exploits during his time at Enyakuji Temple, built high up on Mount Hiei, was the theft of the bronze bell from the rival Mii Temple, located at the foot of the mountain. The boisterous monk was strong enough to single-handedly drag the three-ton bell up to his temple. But his abbot was outraged, and ordered him to return his trophy, whereupon he threw it into a gorge, from where the monks of Mii Temple could retrieve it. The bell still exists and is said to bear the scratches it acquired from its theft.
Another impression of the same print is in the collection of the British Museum, accession no. 2008,3037.02001.
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