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Taira no Tadanori from the series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon

Rising Moon Over Mount Nanping – Cao Cao from the series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Taira no Tadanori

from the series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon

by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1890

Gion District from the series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon

IHL Cat. #1670

About This Print

Standing impatiently outside the house of his lover, the courtier Taira no Tadanori rustles his fan to get her attention.

This collection's print is backed with paper, suggesting it is from a bound album of the entire series of one hundred prints, most likely created by the publisher Akiyama Buemon shortly after Yoshitoshi's death in May 1892.  The border around the light green bamboo blind was printed in orange (as can be seen on the below print from the collection of the British Museum) and, as on many copies of this print, has oxidized to a silver-gray, more in keeping with the print's overall composition and coloring.

British Museum 1906,1220,0.1413

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.
 86 How noisy, the sound of insects calling in the meadow 
as for me, I make no sound but think of love

nomose ni sudaku
mushi no ne yo
waredani nakade
mono o koso omoe*


This debonair courtier in his elaborate robes is Taira no Tadanori, the younger brother of the infamous Kyomori.  Tadanori studied under the court poet Fujiwara no Toshinari and became an accomplished poet himself.  He is remembered for a poem written after he had lost his way while campaigning:

Finding nowhere to lodge at the end of the day
except under a flowering cherry tree
I have the blossoms as my host

The day after he wrote this, Tadanori was killed in the Battle of Ichinotani, where he showed great courage.  He was mourned as a peerless warrior, artist, and poet, even by his enemies, and a chapter of the Heike monogatari is devoted to his death.  His headless body was identified by the cherry-tree poem which was found in his sleeve.  The year of the battle was 1184, when Tadanori was forty – he was spared knowledge of the final destruction of his family the following year.

Tadanori’s mistress, Kiku no Mae, is inside the house in this design.  Tadanori has come to her quarters one moonlit night and finds, to his annoyance, that she is occupied with a lady visitor.  He waits outside for a long time, noisily opening and closing his fan to gain attention.  Kiku can hear him, but cannot get rid of her guest.  Tadanori hears her say, “Listen to the sound of insects calling in the field,” and guesses that she has heard the sound of his fan.  Eventually he has to leave, disappointed.  His lover is equally disappointed, and next day sends him a gift of a poem and a kimono.

The title-poem is by Horikawa no Yorimune and is included in the twelfth-century anthology Shinsen rōeishū. Tadanori’s story is given in Kohon chomonshū, a history written in 1254.  It quotes the poem in the cartouche, explaining that Kiku no Mae had it in mind when she made her comment about the noisy insects.

A striking juxtaposition of floral and geometric patterns is used twice in the design, in the bushclover behind the verandah of the building and in Tadanori’s robe and trousers.  The light from the bamboo blind seems luminous, an effect achieved by the light green with which the slats have been printed.  Yoshtoshi has caught Tadanori’s impatient stance very well.  With his talent for including appropriate detail, whether consciously or not, he has suggested an erection with Tadanori’s pointed black hat.

*かしかまし野もせにすたく虫の音よ 我たになかくものをこそおもへ [Source: Tokyo Metropolitan Library]

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  #1670
 Title/Description  Taira no Tadanori 平 忠度 
 Series  One Hundred Aspects of the Moon (Tsuki hyaku sugata 月百姿)
 John Stevens Reference No.*
 Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
Yoshitoshi 芳年
Yoshitoshi 芳年
 Date  October 1890  明治廿三年十月 日 
 Edition  Likely from a bound album.
 Publisher  Akiyama Buemon (秋山武右エ門) [Marks: seal 26-132; pub. ref. 005]
江仙刀 carving by Esen
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  excellent - original backing; several dots of red ink in image.
 Genre  ukiyo-e
 Format  oban
 H x W Paper  14 7/16 x 9 11/16 in. (36.7 x 24.6 cm)
 H x W Image
 12 15/16 x 8 13/16 in. (32.9 x 22.4 cm)
 Collections This Print  Yale University Art Gallery 2011.143.1.86; The British Museum 1906,1220,0.1413; Tokyo Metropolitan Library 加4722-68 and 5233-60-33; The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 201-4485 and 201-3296; Ritsumeikan University Art Research Center AcNo. arcUP5583; Spencer Collection, The New York Public Library. (1885 - 1892). Tsuki hyakushi = 100 Aspects of the Moon. Retrieved from http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e0-caca-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99; Edo-Tokyo Museum 99000955
 Reference Literature  * Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects of the Moon, John Stevenson, Hotei Publishing, Netherlands 2001, pl. 86.