Oban, Tate-e (14.5." x 10.").
100 Phases of the Moon.


23 June 1887 .


The Moon and the Helm of a Boat - Taira no Kiyotsune

In 1183 the young Kiyotsune joined the Taira forces on their westward voyage along the coast of the Inland Sea. At Usa he consulted an oracle and was told of the terrible fate that the clan would soon suffer. He drowned himself in despair.

Here he composes himself by playing the flute before committing suicide. He sits in the high stern of his warship, the rudder of which can be seen at the bottom of the print. In the distance are other boats of the Taira fleet. Fires are alight on the ships, their flames reflected off the smooth surface of the moonlit bay. These are either signal fires or an allusion to the fires that will soon consume the Taira fleet at Dannoura.

Kiyotsune’s sleeves are delicately printed with a pattern of Nadeshiko flowers. The stern of his boat is draped with hangings bearing the butterfly emblem of the Taira clan. The gradation of the purple was produced either by applying the colour with a single bold stroke of a wide brush, one side of which had been dipped in water to dilute the pigment, or by partially wiping the block with a cloth after
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