Sojobo instructs Yoshitsune in the Sword

YOSHITOSHI TSUKIOKA: Sojobo instructs Yoshitsune in the Sword (1897 - posthumous print)

Minamoto Yoshitsune, half-brother of Yoritomo, although forced to commit suicide by his brother's jealousy, became very popular as a semi-mythological figure among the Japanese. Here he is being trained in swordsmanship by Sojobo, the Tengu King, at Mount Kurama, the centre of tengu power. Sojobo also trained Yoshitsune in military tactics and magic.

Tengu are Buddhist mountain goblins. Their powers include shape-shifting, telepathy, and the ability to moving instantly from place to place. They are patrons of martial arts, skilled warriors and mischief makers, especially prone to play tricks on arrogant Buddhist priests. They are seen as defenders of Dharmic law, and generally portrayed with very long noses.

Yoshitoshi did many prints based on legends about Yoshitsune, most protraying him as a youth, many treating his meeting and battle with the legendary warrior, Benkei, at Gojo bridge. These prints are notable for their dynamic, almost balletic, postures.

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Yoshitoshi biography.


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