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Taira no Kiyomori Haunted by Strange Sights

Taira no Kiyomori Haunted by Strange Sights

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Utagawa Hiroshige

Taira no Kiyomori headed the Taira warrior clan that established the first samurai administrative government in Japan. His exploits became the subject of the warrior epic The Tale of the Heike. In the episode leading up to and describing his death, Kiyomori suffered from hallucinatory fevers and believed all the adversaries that he ruthlessly murdered during his military campaign were haunting him and seeking revenge. In this triptych, Kiyomori stands on the veranda of his palace looking out over his snow- covered garden. Hiroshige places numerous skulls throughout the white landscape. Panicked by his visions, Kiyomori prepares to draw his sword in defense against the apparitions. He bears the likeness of the kabuki actor Nakamura Utaemon IV, who performed this role in 1845.
Utagawa Hiroshige
(Japanese, 1797 - 1858)
Taira no Kiyomori Haunted by Strange Sights
ca. 1845
Color woodcut
14 1/2 x 29 1/2 in. Overall
John H. Van Vleck Endowment Fund purchase
Accession No.


  • Mueller, Laura. "Competition and Collaboration: Japanese Prints of the Utagawa School." Leiden, The Netherlands: Hotei Publishing, 2007. p. 117, no. 83
  • Schlombs, Adele. "Hiroshige: 1797-1858." Koln, Germany: Taschen, 2007. pp. 74-75
  • Izzard, Sebastian. "Hiroshige : an Exhibition of Selected Prints and Illustrated Books." New York: Ukiyo-e Society of America, 1983.
  • Elvehjem Museum of Art. "Bulletin/Biennial Report 2001-2003." Madison: Elvehjem Museum of Art, 2004. pp. 44-45

  • Utagawa: Masters of the Japanese Print, 1770-1900: Chazen Museum of Art, 11/2/2009–11/26/2009

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