This site requires that you enable Javascript to function properly Scholten Japanese Art | Woodblock Prints | Utagawa Kuniyoshi Grateful Thanks for Answered Prayers: Waterfall-striped Fabrics: Kiyomori at Nunobiki Falls
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Kuniyoshi
Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1797-1861
Grateful Thanks for Answered Prayers: Waterfall-striped Fabrics: Kiyomori at Nunobiki Falls
(Daigan joju arigatakijima: Kiyomori)

signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga with artist's seal Kiri, publisher's seal San, Ibasen han (Ibaya Senzaburo of Dansendo), censor's seal Hama, ca. 1843-47
oban tate-e 14 3/8 by 9 5/8 in., 36.6 by 24.5 cm
The series Daigan joju arigatakijima (Graceful Thanks for Answered Prayers) pairs cartouches of legendary subjects beside thematically dressed bijin. This composition juxtaposes one such bijin in the foreground, beside hanging strips of kanpyo (dried gourd shavings), with Taira no Kiyomori (1118-1181) at Nunobiki waterfalls in the inset cartouche. Kiyomori was a ruthless leader of the Taira clan whose megalomaniacal disposition precipitated the 12th century civil war retold in the 14th century Heike monogatari (The Tale of the Heike). During the Heiji Rebellion, the young Minamoto no Yoshihira (1140-1160) was captured by Taira forces and brought to Nunobiki to be executed. Upon his execution, legend has it that Yoshihira's ghost sprang up to become a thunder god and immediately smote his executioner in a burst of lightening before stealing away. Kiyomori is pictured amidst the lightening, with Yoshihira presumably having risen above the falls.
All of the bijin in this series wear blue striped kimono echoing the theme of waterfalls featured in the cartouches. The portion of the keyblock and some of the color blocks which were used to print the bijin were adapted to another design in the series Yomairi hakkei (Eight View of Temple Visits at Night) which was also published by Ibaya Senzaburo (active 1815-1869) around the same time period.
References:
Robert Schaap, Heroes and Ghosts: Japanese Prints by Kuniyoshi, 1797-1861, 1998, p. 135, cat. no. 137 (re: Yomairi hakkei print)
John Stevenson, Yoshitoshi's Strange Tales, 2005, p. 120, cat. no. 19 (re: legend)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (mfa.org), gift of Porter Sargent, accession no. 49.1761
price: $ 1,100