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Tsuba with Benkei at the Barrier Gate, from the Play
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Tsuba with Benkei at the Barrier Gate, from the Play "The Subscription List"


Description Provenance Inscription Credit
Description This tsuba possibly shows a scene from the kabuki play "The Subscription List," in which the loyal retainer Benkei saves his master Yoshitsune from capture by agents of Yoshitsune's older brother Yoritomo. Yoshitsune is traveling north from Kyoto with Benkei and four other soldiers dressed as traveling priests. They hope to pass a barrier gate by convincing the guards that they are collecting money for Tôji temple in Nara and that Yoshitsune is their porter. The guards are suspicious of Yoshitsune, so Benkei must beat his master in order to convince the guards that Yoshitsune is actually a lowly servant. This episode is an example of Benkei's great loyalty to his master because he was able to counter his own reluctance to hurt Yoshitsune in order to save him. The tsuba shows Benkei and the other soldiers at the gate. Yoshitsune does not appear on the tsuba.
Provenance Henry Walters, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Signature] 清真軒元重; [Translation] Seishinken Motoshige
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters

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Period
ca.1825 (late Edo)
Medium
copper, silver, gold
(Arms & Armor)
Accession Number
51.102
Measurements
3 1/4 x 3 x 3/16 in. (8.2 x 7.6 x 0.42 cm)
Geographies
Location Within Museum
Not On View

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