Home‎ > ‎Artists‎ > ‎Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)‎ > ‎

Jōganden Moon – Minamoto no Tsunemoto from the series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Jōganden Moon – Minamoto no Tsunemoto

from the series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon

by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1888

 
 
IHL Cat. #39

About This Print


Source: Museum of International Folk Art http://www.internationalfolkart.org/exhibitions/past/moonweb/section2/046.htm
Minamoto no Tsunemoto (A.D. 917- 961) was a fine poet and skilled in the martial arts. One night near Jōganden, a building in the Imperial Palace in Kyoto, he shot a demonic deer that was about to attack the Emperor.

This print is from the album issued by publisher Akiyama Buemon shortly after Yoshitoshi's death and retains its original album backing.

The Story Depicted in the Print as Told by John Stevenson

Source: Yoshitoshi's One Hundred Aspects of the Moon, John Stevenson, Hotei Publishing, Netherlands 2001
67.
Jōganden moon - Minamoto no Tsunemoto
Jōganden no tsuki - Minamoto no Tsunemoto

Minamoto no Tsunemoto was a high-ranking courtier of the tenth century, a poet famous for his tanka, and a general noted for his skill at archery. He founded the Seiwa-Genji line of the Minamoto family, from whom three shogun families, Minamoto, Ashikaga, and Tokugawa, each claimed descent.

The J
ōganden of the title was a wing of the imperial palace complex in Kyoto.  One moonlit evening in the autumn of 932, the Emperor Shujaku was strolling in the gardens of the palace when a demon in the form of a huge stag, with red eyes and dagger-like teeth, appeared on the roof of the Jōganden.  Stamping and snorting, it was about to leap onto the emperor when Tsunemoto dispatched it with a single kaburaya, “turnip-headed arrow,” between the eyes.

The deer in this design exhibits nothing of the demonic character describe in the story, nor does the light coloration suggest menace; there is no sense of danger, merely a dead deer in the background.  This lessens the impact of the print and must have been deliberate – Yoshitoshi was perfectly capable of designing horrible beasts.  Perhaps in his maturity the artist is indicating that there never was a demon, that the creature was never anything but a harmless deer, and that demons are figments of our imagination.

Movement is beautifully conveyed by the drawing of Tsunemoto’s robes and the way his scabbard swings as he released his arrow.  The pattern on his tunic was popular during the Heian period (794-1185) and was called seigaiha, “waves of the blue ocean;” in the Momoyama period (1576-1600) it was often used to decorate Noh robes.  The falling maple leaves and the edges of the trees have been printed with an oxidizing pigment; later impressions of the design use a less subtle orange.

The imperial government’s control of the countryside was tenuous during this period of Japan’s history, and stories of demons around the palace may have been metaphors for robbers and bandits.  Seven years after he killed the deer-demon, Tsunemoto again saved Emperor Shujaku, by alerting him to the rebellion of Taira no Masakado.  The rebellion lasted five years and seriously weakened the Heian government.  Tsunemoto then distinguished himself by putting down a series of revolts in Bungo province.  He died in 961 at the age of sixty-eight.

Image from Publisher's Bound Album (Issued shortly after Yoshitoshi's death)

About the Series "One Hundred Aspects of the Moon"
For details about this series which consists of one hundred prints with the moon as a unifying motif, see the article on this site Yoshitoshi, One Hundred Aspects of the Moon.


Print Details

 IHL Catalog #39
 Title Jōganden Moon – Minamoto no Tsunemoto
 (J
ōganden no tsuki - Minamoto no Tsunemoto 貞観殿の月 源経基)
 Series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon (Tsuki hyaku sugata 月百姿)
 John Stevens Reference No.*
 67
 Artist
 Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
 Signature
 Yoshitoshi 芳年
 Seal Taiso 大蘇
 Date December 1888 (明治廿一年十二月 日 印刷 仝年十二月 日出)
 Edition Likely from the album issued by publisher Akiyama Buemon shortly after Yoshitoshi's death
 Publisher  Akiyama Buemon (秋山武右エ門) [Marks: seal 26-132; pub. ref. 005]
 Carver Enkatsu Noguchi
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - minor marks, flaws and offsetting; Japanese album backing paper; minor soiling.
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Miscellaneous
 Format Oban
 H x W Paper 13 3/4 x 9 3/4 in. (34.9 x 24.8 cm)
 H x W Image
 12 7/8 x 8 3/4 in. (32.7 x 22.2 cm)
 Collections This Print Yale University Art Gallery 2011.143.1.67; Collection University of Virginia Art Museum ; New York Public Library Humanities and Social Sciences Library / Spencer Collection; Hagi Uragami Museum (Yamaguchi, Japan) UO1568; Tokyo Metropolitan Library 加4722-72; The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 201-4474; Ritsumeikan University ARC NDL-541-00-060 and  NDL-223-00-022
 Reference Literature * Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects of the Moon, John Stevenson, Hotei Publishing, Netherlands 2001

Comments