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Shima Sakon slays Saito Dihachi

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892

Essays by Yoshitoshi: Shima Sakon slays Saito Dihachi at Horagato ge Pass
(Ikkai zuihitsu: Horagato ge ni Shima Sakon Daihachi o utsu)

signed Yoshitoshi hitsu, artist's seal unread, carved by Horiko Tome, published by Masadaya Heikichi, ca. 1872-1873

oban tate-e 13 7/8 by 9 1/2 in., 35.3 by 24 cm

Shima Sakon (1540-1600) was a late Sengoku-period samurai who is remembered for leading the armies of his Lord Ishida Mitsunari (1559-1600) against the future shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. Though the exact circumstances of his death are uncertain, it is thought he died soon after the battle of gunshot wounds he received during the fighting.

Here Yoshitoshi presents an unflinching image of an enraged Sakon pressing forward, his face contorted, his bloody hand raised above his head in a rallying gesture and his likewise bloody long tachi sword piercing the outline of the composition as he lunges to the left. Above, hurtling through the air, the severed head of Saito Daihachi hovers above a thick plume of smoke.

Highlights of Japanese Printmaking: Part Five - Yoshitoshi, Scholten Japanese Art, New York, 2017, cat. no. 44

Roger Keyes, Courage and Silence, 1983, p. 396, no. 280.11
Eric van den Ing & Robert Schaap, Beauty and Violence, 1992, p. 111, no. 23.11
Yuriko Iwakiri, Yoshitoshi, 2014, p. 63, no. 92