The Slaying of Nue

Item #





Edo Period (1600-1868)


Painting on paper




26-1/2 x 25-3/8 inches





Edo Period (1600-1868) painting depicting the story of Nue. In the summer of 1153 the emperor was suffering from inflammation of the eyes and complained that he could not sleep because of screams and violent scratching on the roof of the palace. Sentries were posted, but all they could report was a black cloud that regularly descended onto the roof at midnight. As commander of the palace guards, Minamoto no Yorimasa was called on to solve the mystery. He stationed himself outside the palace, waited until he heard a cry, then shot an arrow with all his strength in its direction, knocking off the roof the strangest animal anyone there had ever seen. It had a monkey's head, a badger's body, a tiger's legs and a snake for a tail, and it was as big as a horse. This creature is called a nue, literally a kind of blackbird which is active at night and thus considered a bird of ill omen in Japan. The monster was not dead, and it was left to Yorimasa's retainer, Ii no Hayata, to dispatch it. He attacked with a dagger, and there followed a struggle in which Hayata's hat was bitten by the head of the snake-tail. The creature was killed, whereupon the emperor recovered.
鵺的杀戮。江户(1600 - 1868)。水墨纸本镜框。保存状况良好。鵺是传说中的一种猴头獾身虎腿蛇尾体大如马的怪兽(一说是一种在夜间活动的黑鹂)。1153年(时于江户朝代)夏,皇帝患眼疾,发现是鵺在作祟。宫廷护卫指挥官源赖政将它射下来,家臣李野早田用匕首与它恶斗,将它杀死,而皇帝的眼疾亦得以痊愈。


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