Collection online

painting / board

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1881,1210,0.1771

  • Description

    Painting, theatre signboard (e-kanban). Minamoto no Yorimasa with a great bow, killing the nue (a creature with head of monkey, body of badger, tail of serpent and legs of tiger) before the Shishinden palace. Ink, colour and gold on ?hemp. Signed and sealed.

  • Producer name

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1868-1880
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 139 centimetres
    • Width: 3710 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        signature
      • Inscription Position

        image, bottom right, in cartouche
      • Inscription Language

        Japanese
      • Inscription Content

        應需 / 原國歳
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Oju / Hara Kunitoshi
      • Inscription Translation

        Hara Kunitoshi, by special request
      • Inscription Type

        seal
      • Inscription Script

        Japanese
      • Inscription Position

        image, bottom right, in cartouche
      • Inscription Content

        國歳
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Kunitoshi
      • Inscription Comment

        In red.
  • Curator's comments

    Clark 1992

    The warrior chronicles 'Heike monogatari' and 'Gempei seisuiki' both relate how in the fourth month, 1153, the Emperor was disturbed every night by the cries of a bird-like creature and terrible dreams, and the warrior Minamoto no Yorimasa was commanded to discover the cause. As he waited at night with his henchman I no Hayata, a black cloud appeared from the forest at Higashi Sanjo and, praying to Hachiman, Yorimasa let fly an arrow from his great bow. A creature fell out of the sky - and was promptly finished off by I no Hayata with his dagger - the like of which had never been seen before - head of a monkey, body of a badger, tail of a serpent and legs of a tiger. Its cry was like the fabulous monster of the night, the Nue, and so it was identified as such.

    The story of the killing of the Nue (Nue taiji) was adapted as the No play 'Nue' and incorporated by Danjuro II into the Kabuki play 'Yorimasa sambaso' as early as 1708, subsequently performed in many versions. The present painting was clearly intended as a large signboard to advertise such a Kabuki performance, but it has not been possible to link it to a specific performance in the early Meiji era. Since the actors are not identified with crests and the painting was done on cloth rather than paper (to last longer), it was perhaps meant to be used by a travelling company for a number of performances. The faces of the actors are done very much in the style used by the Ukiyo-e print artist Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900) during the 1860s and 70s, and it may be that the use here by Kunitoshi of the otherwise unrecorded art surname Hara in his signature expresses a pupil relationship with Kunichika. The background of the Shishinden Palace is painted with the exaggerated sense of perspective habitually used in theatre backdrops. William Anderson must have acquired the painting as virtually new during his time in Japan from 1873 to 1880.

    Literature:
    Anderson, William, 'Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of Japanese and Chinese Paintings in the British Museum'. London, Trustees of the British Museum, 1886, no. 1771.Asahi 1996

    軍記物語の「平家物語」も「源平盛衰記」も、仁平3年(1153)卯月のできごとを物語っている。帝が毎夜鳥のような鳴き声と悪夢に悩まされる。そこで武士源頼政が原因究明を命ぜられる。頼政が郎等井早太とともに、夜に待ち受けていると、東三条の森の方から黒雲が現れた。南無八幡大菩薩と唱えながら、頼政は大きな弓を引いて矢を放った。化け物は空から落ちてきて、すぐに井早太が短刀でとどめをさしたが、化け物の姿は頭が猿、胴は狸、尾は蛇、手足は虎のようであった。鳴く声が夜に出る伝説の怪獣、鵺のようであったので、この化け物も鵺と判断された。

    鵺退治の物語は謡曲「鵺」に脚色され、さらに二代市川団十郎によって宝永5年(1708)にはもう歌舞伎で「頼政式三番」として取り入れられている。その後もいろんな狂言で上演された。本作品が歌舞伎の演目を知らせる看板であることはすぐ見てとれるが、明治年間初期の実際上演された演目とは関係ないようである。役者も紋がなくて特定できないし、紙ではなく布に描かれている(もっと長かったものであろう)。おそらく旅芝居の劇団が演目のひとつとして使っていたものであろう。役者の顔の表現は浮世絵師豊原国周(1835-1900)の1860年代から1870年代にかけての様式を示している。またここで国歳は他に知られない画姓「原」を署名に用いているが、これは国周との師弟関係を表すものかもしれない。背景の紫宸殿は芝居の書割によくある強調した遠近法を用いて描かれている。ウイリアム・アンダーソンは明治6年(1873)から同13年にかけて日本に滞在した際に新しい作品として購入したに違いない。

    (伊藤紫織(千葉市美術館))

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • Asahi 1996 101 bibliographic details
    • Clark 1992 167 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1881

  • Acquisition notes

    The collection of over 2,000 Japanese and Chinese paintings assembled by Prof. William Anderson during his residency in Japan, 1873-1880, was acquired by the Museum in 1881. The items were not listed in the register, but rather were published separately as the 'Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of a Collection of Japanese and Chinese Paintings in the British Museum' (Longmans & Co, 1886).

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1881,1210,0.1771

  • Additional IDs

    • Jap.Ptg.1573 (Japanese Painting Number)
Painting, theatre signboard. Slaying the nue creature. Ink, colour and gold on ?hemp.

Painting, theatre signboard. Slaying the nue creature. Ink, colour and gold on ?hemp.

Image description

Recommend


Feedback

If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: collectiondatabase@britishmuseum.org 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: JCF1477

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 

Supporters

Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help  

Loading...