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Design number 12 of the series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon by Tsukioka (Taiso) Yoshitoshi. It is titled Moon above the Sea of Daimotsu Bay - Benkei, or Daimotsu kaijo no tsuki - Benkei in Japanese.
First Publication: March 2009
Latest Update: May 2013
The above image shows an original woodblock print from the first, single-sheet edition.
The design was first published in January 1986. It is the number 12 of the series. Publisher was Akiyama Buemon.
The scene shows Benkei, the faithful vassal who accompanied his master Yoshitsune during a two year flight and ordeal from the troops of Yoshitsune's evil brother Yoritomo. In 1185 the Minamato clan defeated and finally destroyed the Taira clan in the decisive naval battle of Dannoura under the command of Yoshitsune. But Yoshitsune's brother Yoritomo soon tried to oust the splendid hero Yoshitsune for reasons of jealousy and fear that one day he could be outmaneuvered by his brother.
Yoshitsune fled to the West and North of Japan. Two years later he and Benkei were encircled by Yoritomo troops. Yoshitsune killed his family and committed seppuku, the ritual Japanese suicide. Benkei defended his master until the very end. Hit by numerous arrows he blocked the entrance for the enemies with his huge body when he was already dead. Yoshitsune and Benkei are revered by the Japanese people as role models for integrity and loyalty until the end.
One day during their flight they crossed the sea in a boat. A huge storm set in. The men in the boat could hear and see the ghosts of the drowned Taira warriors. Benkei kept a clear mind and started to pray and show a rosary to the ghosts. The ghosts disappeared.
This scene is famous in Japanese history and the arts. One can find quite a lot of woodblock print designs with this spectacular event. But the best known is without any doubt this design by Yoshitoshi.
Kunichika Toyohara, 1835-1900, made a very gorgeous and impressive design of this scene.
"Bunji 4-nen (1188), Soshu Daimotsu-ga-ura Nanpu no Zu". While Yoshitsune was sailing on Daimotsu-ga-ura Bay in Soshu in 1188, the chilling ghosts of the fallen Heike clan emerge from the ocean bottom and attack Yoshitsune's boat. Benkei, Yoshitsune and his retainers confront them fearlessly to throw them back to the ocean. The faint shadow of the ghost of Taira general Tomomori appears in the distance.
This design is one of the rare and quite expensive ones of the series.
For larger images, detailed descriptions and achieved prices of sold woodblock prints by Yoshitoshi for Moon above the Sea of Daimotsu Bay - Benkei, please search our archive of sold prints for Moon above the Sea of Daimotsu Bay - Benkei - Yoshitoshi.
The complete series was published in an excellent book with full page illustrations and excellent descriptions and background information by John Stevenson.
John Stevenson, "One Hundred Aspects of the Moon", published by Avery Press, 600 Kalmia Avenue, Boulder, CO 80304, ISBN 0-9632218-0-9. See plate No. 12.
3 object(s) by Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (Taiso) 1839-1892 in current auction Japanese Prints - Popular Magazines in Meiji - 1109
970 sold object(s) by Yoshitoshi Taiso 1839-1892 in our Art Archive
15 signature(s) by Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (Taiso) in our Signature Database
Author: Dieter Wanczura
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3 items by Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (Taiso) in current auction Japanese Prints - Popular Magazines in Meiji - 1109.