The Warrior Asahina Yoshihide Lifting a Puppet of a Courtesan on a Go Board

Torii Kiyoshige Japanese

Not on view

This bizarre but intriguing ukiyo-e painting shows the famous medieval warrior Asahina Yoshihide balancing a puppet of an early Edo-period courtesan on a thick wooden go game board. A young female attendant holds one of Asahina’s hairy legs steady while he performs this muscular act of derring-do.

A retainer of the Minamoto clan who fought with family members in a revolt against Hōjō shogunal regents in 1213, Asahina was a historical figure of note. But he is better remembered through literary accounts as the son of the female warrior Tomoe Gozen and through his regular representation in kabuki plays as a warrior of superhuman strength. Asahina’s crest was a crane motif, as seen here, but if the scene is based on theater, the kabuki play that inspired it has yet to be discovered.

The Warrior Asahina Yoshihide Lifting a Puppet of a Courtesan on a Go Board, Torii Kiyoshige (Japanese, active ca. 1716–1759), Hanging scroll; ink, color and gold on paper, Japan

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