"Kogō" and "The Imperial Procession to Ōhara", from The Tale of the Heike (Heike monogatari)


Not on view

These screens depict two iconic scenes from The Tale of the Heike, a fourteenth-century account of late twelfth-century clashes between the rival Taira and Minamoto clans. The right screen represents the story’s “Kogō” chapter, which centers on Lady Kogō, a renowned beauty and accomplished koto player who finds herself banished after being caught in a love triangle involving Emperor Takakura and the leader of the Taira clan. Here, Minamoto no Nakakuni—the repeated figure wearing a red robe—searches for Lady Kogō on a moonlit night at the behest of the emperor. Following the sound of her koto, a type of zither, he tracks her to a dwelling
in the Saga Plain of western Kyoto, pictured at far right. The left screen depicts the elaborate procession of Emperor Go-Shirakawa to Ōhara, in the hills north of Kyoto, in order to visit the former empress Kenreimon’in. Now living in a convent, Kenreimon’in is shown in the third panel from the left, seated on a veranda wearing a white robe.

"Kogō" and "The Imperial Procession to Ōhara", from The Tale of the Heike (Heike monogatari), Pair of six-panel folding screens; ink, color, gold and gold leaf on paper, Japan

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2015.300.102.1, right screen