The Fever of Taira no Kiyomori
Taira no Kiyomori hi no yamai no zu
Colour print from woodblocks, with blind embossing (karazuri), burnishing (shômenzuri) and mica (kirazuri). Ôban format triptych. Block-cutter: Shiba Sakuragawa Yamamoto (Yamamoto Shinji). Printer: Suri Tsune. Publisher: Akiyama Buemon. Date: 08/1883 Keyes 457
This subject comes from the Heike Monogatari (Tale of the Heike), which told the story of the feud between the Minamoto (Genji) and Taira (Heike) clans that was retold many times in plays and prints. Kiyomori (1118-1181) was son of a concubine of the Emperor Shirakawa Tenno. He defeated the Minamoto clan in 1159, and ruled as a dictatorial Chancellor of the Empire. After his death, the power of his family vanished and the Minamoto clan took control again.
Kiyomori was finally tortured by a fever so hot that the water boiled when he bathed. Yoshitoshi evokes the fever with unusual and lurid colours, creating a vision of the hell that was Kiyomori’s punishment for burning a giant bronze Buddha. Kiyomori is attended by his praying wife and son, with Enma, King of Hell, in the background. This episode was also depicted by Kuniyoshi in a triptych of c. 1844.
Purchased from the Rylands Fund with a contribution from the National Art Collections Fund, 2003