The Soga Brothers Cutting Down Ten [Retainers of Kudō Suketsune] (Soga jūban kiri no zu)

Utagawa Kunisada (Japanese, 1786-1864)

Not Currently on View
Image Licensing


These prints (see also 16.1168) depict a scene from an incident that has been more frequently dramatized in Japan than any other. In 1175 Kud? Suketsune arranged the murder of his cousin Sukemichi over a land dispute. Sukemichi’s two infant sons, J?r? (Sukenari) and Gor? (Tokimune), grew up harboring the desire to avenge their father’s death. Eighteen years later they did so. The shogun, Minamoto Yoritomo, invited Kud? to a grand hunting excursion. Grabbing the opportunity, the two brothers slipped undetected into Kud?’s tent. They woke Kud?, announced themselves, and then dispatched him as he reached for his sword. In the ensuing fight with Kud?’s retainers, J?r? was killed and Gor? was taken alive. Although Kud? was a favorite of the shogun, Yoritomo admired the brothers’ courageous spirit and determination and wanted to pardon Gor?. But Kud?’s son protested, and Gor? was executed. In executing these two prints, the printer altered the palettes to suggest different lighting effects.

Given to the John Herron Art Institute, now the Indianapolis Museum of Art, in 1945.

Object Information

Utagawa Kunisada (Japanese, 1786-1864)
creation date
about 1832
color woodblock print
9-15/16 x 14-11/16 in. (image)
mark descriptions
Signed by artist: Kōchōrō Kunisada ga
Artist's seal (partially unread): _____ Goto _____
Publisher's mark: Yamaguchi-ya Tōbei (Kinkōdō)
Censor's seal: circular kiwame
accession number
credit line
Gift in memory of Charles C. Kryter
Public Domain
Asian Art

You May Also Like