12 Jan 2018

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The Battle of Uji-gawa River was a battle that took place in January 1184, at the end of Heian period, between Minamoto no Yoshinaka, and Minamoto no Noriyori and Minamoto no Yoshitsune who were dispatched by Minamoto no Yoritomo in Kamakura. The decisive battle across the river with very strong current began with the fight for the vanguard between Takatsuna Sasaki on Ikezuki (a fine horse) and Kagesue Kajiwara on Surusumi (a fine horse) , who were in the Yoshitsune's troop.

Exploits on a battlefield assured samurai warriors of their promotion in those days. Takatsuna Sasaki, who won the fight for vanguard, has been depicted as a symbol of a strong man, who can win a race, among many Japanese-style painters since ancient times, since only being a spearhead and taking a cut head of a enemy general were regarded as rewards.

This piece is a kakejiku (hanging scroll) with a painting of the battle of vanguard at the Uji-gawa river by Kakou Nakajima, a Japanese-style painter. Takatsuna Sakaki, who crossed the river bravely under a shower of enemy's arrows, and Kagesue Kajikawa, crossing with a rueful countenance, are depicted splendidly with Kakou's delicate brushwork. The elaborate detail of Takatsuna's armour draws our attention. This is an truly wonderful work.
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