[Two Followers Bowing before the Exiled Emperor Sutoku], 1880
One of the ‘Selected Pictures of the History of Great Japan.’ Signed on block and with seal lower right: ‘Yoshitoshi Taiso’; inscribed on block lower left and upper right. A fine oban triptych in fine condition with full margins.
Sutoku-tenno was the 74th Emperor of Japan (1124-1141). He was forced to resign his crown when his father declared a different son heir presumptive. The resulting conflict between Sutoku his family led to the nation splitting into two sides, each with their respective loyal followers. Sutoku and his followers were defeated in the resulting Hojen civil war and thus exiled to Sanuki. This print depicts one of the exiled emperor’s loyalists on the left and the monk Rennyo taking messages to and from Sutoku on the right. Sutoku’s slightly demonic and disembodied appearance in this print may be due to the legend that upon his death, he vowed to turn into a demon in order to throw the empire into disarray once again.