Collection online

painting / hanging scroll

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Painting, hanging scroll. Illustration of the Akutagawa episode in Tales of Ise: two samurai carrying women piggy-back, running in opposite directions across landscape dotted with maples; in distance servants searching with lanterns in front of long curtain bearing crest hung between trees. Ink and colour on paper. Signed and sealed.

    [Jap.Ptg.1406] -
    [Jap.Ptg.1406, image (a)] -
    [Jap.Ptg.1406, image (b)] -
    [Jap.Ptg.1406, image (c)] -
    [Jap.Ptg.1406, image (d)] -
    [Jap.Ptg.1406, image (T)] -
    [Jap.Ptg.1406, image (Ta)] -
    [Jap.Ptg.1406, image (V)] -


  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1752 (before)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 84.8 centimetres
    • Width: 38.6 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        image, bottom right
      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Kohensai Issho
      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Position

        image, bottom right
      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Ando [Yasumichi?]
      • Inscription Comment

        In red.
  • Curator's comments

    Clark 1992

    In this unusual composition two samurai carrying women piggy back are shown running in opposite directions across a landscape dotted with maples, while in the distance servants search with lanterns in front of a long curtain bearing the crest of a noble family, hung between the trees. The women have pulled over their heads a special outer robe ('kinukazuki') worn by noblewomen to disguise their identity on outings.

    When the composition of an Ukiyo-e painting or print seems unusual or odd, it is often the signal that this is a 'mitate' rendition, alluding to some famous episode in history or classical literature. Seeing a woman carried on a man's back immediately brings to mind the 'Akutagawa' (Akuta River) episode, chapter 6 of 'Ise monogatari', in which a man abducts a young woman and carries her off to the Akuta River, where as they shelter for the night in a deserted house she is eaten by a monster. Seeing men searching in the distance for fleeing lovers also recalls the 'Musashi Moor' episode of the same novel (no. 34). Perhaps Issho intended the painting simply to show games at some autumn maple-viewing expedition of a noble household, with simultaneous references to 'Ise monogatari'; or else it illustrates the plot of some yet-to-be-discovered contemporary drama.

    The running figures have a spiky energy never found in the work of Issho's teacher, Miyagawa Choshun (?1682-1752; see p. 87) and their distinctive 'pinched' features are quite his own.

    '(Hizo) Ukiyo-e taikan' ('Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections'), ed. Narazaki Muneshige. Vol. 1, Tokyo, Kodansha, 1987, no. 105.Asahi 1996






  • Bibliography

    • Hizo Ukiyo-e taikan Vol 1 105 bibliographic details
    • Asahi 1996 32 bibliographic details
    • Clark 1992 40 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Subjects

  • Associated titles

    • Associated Title: Ise monogatari ('Akutagawa' (Akuta River) episode, chapter 6)
  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Acquisition notes

    The collection of Japanese and Chinese paintings belonging to Arthur Morrison was purchased by Sir William Gwynne-Evans, who presented it to the British Museum in 1913.

  • Department


  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • Jap.Ptg.1406 (Japanese Painting Number)
Hanging scroll. Samurai elopements. Ink and colours on paper.

Hanging scroll. Samurai elopements. Ink and colours on paper.

Image description



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Object reference number: JCF5128

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