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Artist: Katsukawa Shuntei (勝川春亭)

Print: Yoshitsune (源義經公) and Benkei (武蔵坊弁慶)

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Dates: circa 1795,created
Dimensions: 20.0 in,14.25 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print
Inscription: Signed: Shuntei ga (春亭画)
Publisher: Nishimuraya Yohachi
(Marks 391 seal 01-008)
Censor's seal: kiwame

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Hokkei surimono of Benkei planting the signboard;

Physical description:

Oban diptych.

On the right Yoshitsune is seated in full armor. A very subtle motif is to be found in several places on this elaborate protective suit, the sasarindō, a personal Minamoto clan crest.

Mark Griffiths wrote about the sasarindō on page 245 in his The Lotus Quest: In Search of the Sacred Flower: "The personal, rather than clan mon of Minamoto no Yoritomo was the sasarindō, a design in which three flowers of rindō (the Japanese gentian, Gentiana scabra or G. makinoi) sit above three leaves of the shrubby bamboo Sasa. The gentian was characteristic of the damp grassland flora of Southern Japan, while the bamboo was a signature plant of the North. This elegant posy is iconographic code for the shogun: the North is subjugated by the South; the country united under his military authority."

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"In this legendary scene, Benkei, the famous warrior-monk of the late twelfth century, plants a signboard in front of a gnarled plum tree at Daimotsu Bay by order of his master, Minamoto no Yoshitsune. Based on an edict issued in the Ten'ei period (1110-1112) for a famous maple tree, the sign reads... 'If you break off one branch of this tree, one of your fingers will be cut off.' The date on the sign, Ju'ei 3 (1184), marks the beginning of the Gempei wars, and the year Yoshitsune and the Minamoto troops defeated the Taira at the decisive battle of Ichinotani."

Quoted from: Jewels of Japanese Printmaking: Surimono of the Bunka-Bunsei Era 1804-1830, by Joan B. Mirviss, p. 98.