This vase was formed from a segment of a large elephant tusk, carved in very high relief and set into a base of bronze and silver. The scene is from the life of Minamoto Yoshitsune (1159-1189), who is depicted on horseback surrounded by his loyal retainers. They all look out toward the sea as a storm rages against them. Gusts of wind are carved into the ivory above, while the surging water is depicted in the metal base below. Mounted on a horse, the 12th-century warrior Yoshitsune, spurned by his brother- for whom Yoshitsune's military prowess had secured the rule of Japan- prepared to leave the country by sea. But the stormy weather prevents his departure. The vase is said to have been commissioned by the Japanese government in a period when the carvers of ivory "netsuke" were faced with the loss of a market, due to the adoption of Western dress.