Fragment of Heiji monogatari emaki

  • Kamakura period
  • 13-14c
  • Hanging scroll, color on paper
  • H-27.1 W-15
Catalogue Entry

Due to an interest shown by the samurai, picture scrolls with battle themes flourished in the Kamakura period. These scrolls pictorially represent scenes from a battle chronicle The Stories about Heiji civil war written in the early Kamakura period, which recounts the battle of Heiji of 1159. Extant works from these scrolls include Rokuharagyoko no maki of the Tokyo National Museum, Shinzei no maki of The Seikado Bunko Art Museum, and Sanjoden youchi no maki of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Rokuhara kassen no maki owned by private collectors.

The present work is concluded to be a part of Rokuhara kassen no maki, which depicts a battle of the Genji (Minamoto) clan and the Heike (Taira) clan, from a comparison of this image to those in copybooks. In this image, hoisting the red flag of the Heike clan, a group of samurai warriors on horseback charge at full speed to the battle scene that lies off to the left of the image. Scrolls pictorially interpreting The Stories about Heiji civil war are considered to be among the representative battle scrolls which exhibit a superb ability to convey groups of people in animated scenes. Even in this small piece, tension fills the entire image.