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Musashibo e Engi (The Tale of Musashibo Benkei)
CBL J 1117.1
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The early popularity of this tale suggests that many painted scrolls and albums must have been produced on the subject. There is, however, no record of other extant copies of painted scrolls of this story. The paintings indicate a transition in style from yamato-e to nara-e. Although the black lacquer box containing the scrolls bears the titles and names of the artist Imagawa Ryoshun and Tosa Mitsuhiro of the early fifteenth century, it is doubtful whether they were the actual calligrapher and painter of this work. The dark blue silk brocade covers of each scroll extend to the inner surface to form a decorative opening edge, patterned in plain gold with designs of lotus flowers on the first scroll, chrysanthemum and eulalia on the second scroll, and morning glories on the third.

History of the Object
As an adored Japanese national hero, Benkei is regarded as the paragon of Japanese patriotism and chivalry. The story of the powerful monk-warrior’s life is largely bound up with that of Minamoto Yoshitsune, a famous war lord of the Minamoto clan (c. 1159-89). These scrolls depict the legendary story of Benkei: the strange birth of this inhuman giant in the mountains, his wild manners, his meeting with Yoshitsune on Goyo Bridge in Kyoto, and the subsequent relationship between the master Yoshitsune and his follower Benkei.

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Type
Painting 
Materials
Ink, colours, silver, and gold on paper 
Measurements
Height 1: 34,0 cm.; 2: 34,0 cm.; 3: 34,0 cm. Length 1: 1387,0 cm; 2: 1259,0 cm.; 3: 1271,0 cm  
Creator name
Imagawa Ryoshun  
Creator date
unknown 
Where it was made
Japan 
Geography
Japan 
Time period
AD 17th century ~ AD 17th century 
Creation date
Mid-16th Century 
Function
narrative illustrations 
Acquisition
Purchased privately 
Copyright
(c) Trustees of the Chester Beatty Library 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
The Chester Beatty Library  
Museum
The Chester Beatty Library 
Credit line
Trustees of the Chester Beatty Library 

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