Attack on the Sanjo Palace
I've only been to Boston a few, brief visits -- but a highlight from each visit had to be this scroll at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
I've never seen anything like it -- before or since -- it's like an epic action movie -- shot by John Ford -- where every scene is shot perfect -- telling the story -- beginning to end -- accross a scroll that's 20 feet long.
You can see that the action is violent -- the confusion is everywhere -- but it's an organized chaos -- and that's why it's so memorable.
I've just begun the Heike Monogatari -- an epic novel that covers the same 12th C. events -- and was written in the same period as the scroll was made (13th C.)
I'm completely a novice at Japanese history -- so I can't yet put this event into a wider context -- but it's so thrilling to have the story and its illlustration side-by-side.
BTW -- the scroll got to Boston through the grace of Ernest Fenollosa (1853 - 1908)-- an American scholar who taught philosophy at Tokyo University and is famous for his collaboration with Ezra Pound for introducing Asian literature and philosophy to American scholars. Apparently he bought it from the Honda family. (any relation to the fictional protagonist of Mishima's tetralogy ?)
News Flash! (May, 2010)
A much better version on the internet
can now be found here