Series: The Meiji period (明治時代, Meiji-jidai) Restoration: 1868 -1912
Category: Women Samurai
Accession Number: DFJN2020PRWS0015
Title (Original): 巴御前の戦い
Title: Tomoe gozen notatakai
Translated Title: Tomoe Gozen in Battle
Artist (Original): 吉虎（アクティブc1840-1880）
Artist: Utagawa Yoshitora (active c1840-1880)
Medium: Japanese woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and colour on paper
Publisher (Original): Unknown
Publication Date: 1856
Acquisition Date: 29 / 10 / 2020
Country of origin: Japan
Size: Vertical ōban. Triptych. 35.4 x 71.4 cm
Condition: Excellent colour and detail. Three separate panels. Slight separation at ends and thinning along vertical fold at side of one panel. A few wormholes (repaired). Slight toning and soiling, rubbing at edges, few creases.
Fantastic scene of the famed woman warrior Tomoe Gozen in battle. She sits astride a dappled horse, gripping the trunk of an uprooted tree as easily as a pole arm. She wears a suit of armour and a billowing cloak patterned with her three comma crest, her long hair held back with a white headband. She frowns as she looks at her enemy on the ground, a fierce samurai wearing a horned battle helmet topped with a shaggy red wig. At right a warrior tramples several men beneath the hooves of his horse as he brandishes a sword, broken arrows protruding from his armour. The battle rages behind them, with men fighting on foot and on horseback. In the distance at upper left, Minamoto no Yishinaks’s black horse has become stuck in the mud in a rice field, causing his death when he is hit by an arrow. A great image of this legendary hero, wonderfully detailed and coloured.
Tomoe Gozen is the archetypal samurai woman warrior of the Gempei Wars. The female companion of Minamoto Kiso Yoshinaka, the cousin of the future shogun Minamoto Yoritomo. In the account of the battle of Awazu in 1184 in Heike Monogatari she is described:
Tomoe had long black hair and a fair complexion, and her face was very lovely; moreover she was a fearless rider, whom neither the fiercest horse nor the roughest ground could dismay, and so dexterously did she handle sword and bow that she was a match for a thousand warriors, and fit to meet either god or devil. Many times she had taken the field, armed at all points, and won matchless renown in encounters with the bravest captains, and si in this last fight, when all the others had been slain or fled, among the last seven there rode Tomoe.