The Battle of Yashima, Scenes from The Tale of the Heike
Edo period (1615–1868)
One of a pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, and gold on gilded paper
59 x 133 1/4 in. (149.9 x 338.5 cm)
Gift of General and Mrs. Hugh J. Casey, 1960
Not on view
Depicted on this screen is the Battle of Yashima, one of many stirring events recounted in the ballads of the fateful struggles between the Taira clan and their ultimately victorious rivals, the Minamoto. White-bannered Minamoto warriors led by Yoshitsune (1159–1189) rout the fleeing Taira from their encampment on the shore of the Inland Sea. Featured at right is a famous episode relating the valor and prowess of the young archer Nasu no Yoichi. Goaded by one of the Taira women who held a fan as she stood at the prow of an offshore boat, the unproved warrior stepped forward and saved his clan's honor by shooting the distant, bobbing target. Enmity gave way to admiration as both sides hailed the successful deed. The scene closes with a vivid description that inspired this and many other paintings:
The red fan with its golden orb floated on the white waves in the glittering rays of the setting sun; and as it rocked there, dancing up and down, the Heike in the offing beat their gunwales and applauded, and the Genji on the land struck their quivers and shouted. (One of a pair; see 1980.283)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "No Ordinary Mortals: The Human Figure in Japanese Art," 2007–2008.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Ukiyo-e Artists' Responses to Romantic Legends of Two Brothers: Narihira and Yukihira," March 27, 2008–June 8, 2008.