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Ghosts

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Yoshu Chikanobu (aka Chikanobu), Japanese, (1838–1912)
Snow, Moon, Flowers: No. 14 Yamashiro, Snow at Rokuhara, Prime Minister Jokai, 08/02/1884
Ink on Paper
12 13/16 in. x 8 7/16 in. (325.44 mm x 214.31 mm)


Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Creation Place: Asia, Japan
Credit Line: Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Ballard
Accession Number: 93.6.69


Commentary
In this powerful print by Chikanobu, we see nature transformed supernaturally, as a consequence of human action, or karma. It depicts Taira no Kiyomori (1118-1181), leader of the Heike clan and the main character in the epic Tales of the Heike (Japanese: Heike Monogatari). In his ruthless pursuit of political power, Kiyomori crushed the Genji clan in 1160, and to strengthen his control over the country, he took the position of Prime Minister and married his daughter to Emperor Takakura. He then placed the retired Emperor Goshirakawa under house arrest in 1179 and made his grandson Emperor at the age of two. In his later years, Kiyomori had nightmares about the many warriors and courtiers he had killed. Here, an older Kiyomori looks out from his verandah and sees skulls and skeletons rising out of the snow-covered garden, as if all his murdered enemies were surrounding his residence to seek revenge.

- Meher McArthur, January 7, 2021

Marks
Signed: “Yoshu Chikanobu hitsu” with red toshidama seal

Medium
Colored ink on paper; wood-block print.

Object Description
Taira no Kiyomori (1118-1181), leader of the Heike, was ruthless in his pursuit of political power, crushing the Genji clan in 1160, taking the position of Chancellor in 1167, marrying his daughter to Emperor Takakura, placing the retired Emperor Goshirakawa under house arrest in 1179, and making his grandson Emperor at the age of two. In his later years, he began to have horrific visions in which the spirits of the many courtiers and warriors he had killed returned to haunt him, here depicted as skeletons rising out of the snowy garden elements.

Inset: The Shinto Shrine of Itsukushima in the Inland Sea, patronized by Kiyomori.

For more information, please refer to the Chikanobu exhibition catalogue.

Publisher
Kobayashi Tetsujiro

Related Objects
Back to back print with 93.6.68. No. 14.

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