Yoshitsuna Utagawa, Legends of the Seven Masakados


Artist: Yoshitsuna Utagawa (act.1840s-1860s)
Title: Legends of the Seven Masakados
Publisher: Minatoya Kohei
Date: 1847-1852
Size: (L) 36.2 x 24.7 cm, (C) 36.6 x 24.8 cm, (R) 36.4 x 25 cm


Original Japanese woodblock print.

This triptych’s centre figure is Taira no Masakado (900? – 940), one of Japan’s most famous samurai leaders who lived in the Heian Period. He came from an elite family, however his privilege became unstable after his father’s death. After much family infighting, he then became the first person to lead an uprising against the central Kyoto government. He proclaimed that the Sun Goddess had chosen him as Japan’s emperor, leading him seizing two Northern provinces and killing a local governor.

The most prominent legend of this leader ironically begins with his death. After Masakado is decapitated in battle, it is said his anger and fury was so great that his body remained in purgatory in search of his head, which flew all the way from Kyoto to what is now Kanda district in Tokyo. Kanda still has a shrine called Masakada Jinja where the head was supposed to be located and is said to be haunting the area ever since 940. Even through the 20th Century, there were many accidents, illnesses and catastrophes that were attributed to to Taira no Masakado’s curse.

Yoshitsuna Utagawa

No description
More Information
Print FormatTriptych
ArtistYoshitsuna Utagawa
SubjectSamurai & Male
Dimensions(L) 36.2 x 24.7 cm, (C) 36.6 x 24.8 cm, (R) 36.4 x 25 cm
Condition ReportTrimmed, edge wear (some losses), paper thinning, binding holes, a tear on centre panel, stains due to old glue