Asian Art

Scene from the Battle of Yashima from the Tale of the Heike

late 17th–early 18th century

Six-panel folding screen: ink, color, and gold pigments and flakes on paper

unframed: 37 7/16 × 111 1/4 in. (95.1 × 282.6 cm)
Leonard C. Hanna, Jr., Class of 1913, Fund
2002.84.2
This screen panel depicts the penultimate battle during the Genpei Wars (1180–85), when Minamoto no Yoshitsune is saved by one of his retainers, Sato Tsugunobu, who had inserted himself between an enemy arrow and his master. The valiant retainer is shown plummeting off his horse at the center of the screen. One of the central themes of the painting is the samurai code—especially the relationship between the lord and retainer—demonstrating the concerns and ideals of the military class at a time when betrayal was a real threat. When the screen was painted, however, the peaceful Edo life rendered such relationships irrelevant, weakening the shogunate’s control over its vassals. In the centuries before the Edo period, Zen Buddhism and the tea protocol emphasized the bond between teacher and student, rather than the bond between lord and retainer, making both practices popular among the samurai as well as the Buddhists.
Culture: 
Japanese
Period: 
Edo period (1615–1868)
Classification: 
Paintings
Geography: 
Japan
Status: 
Not on view
Provenance: 

Private collection, Great Britain; acquired by Leighton R. Longhi in London ca. 1989-99.

Bibliography: 

Edward Kamens, “ ‘The Tale of Genji’ and ‘Yashima’ Screens in Local and Global Contexts,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2007): 100, 104–5, 112, 114, 117–18, fig. 3.

Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007), 158–59, 378–79, pl. 142.

Sadako Ohki, “Japanese Art at Yale,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2007): 42.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.