Vase with the Warrior Yoshitsune

Ishikawa Komeica. 1880 (Meiji)

The Walters Art Museum

The Walters Art Museum
Baltimore, United States

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.


  • Title: Vase with the Warrior Yoshitsune
  • Date Created: ca. 1880 (Meiji)
  • Type: vases
  • Rights: Acquired by William T. Walters, before 1896, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
  • External Link: The Walters Art Museum
  • Medium: carved ivory in high relief with a silver liner, copper alloy base, and gold
  • Provenance: Japanese Delegation to the Centennial Exhibition, Philadelphia, 1876; Egyptian sector; William T. Walters, Baltimore, before 1896, by purchase; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1894, by inheritance; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
  • Place of Origin: Tokyo, Japan
  • Inscriptions: [Signature] Komei saku (Komei in)
  • ExhibitionHistory: Centennial Exhibition Philadelphia. Memorial Hall, Philadelphia, Philadelphia. 1876
  • Artist: Ishikawa Komei

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