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Recontextualizing a Tale of the Heike Scene by Iwasa Matabei

The Metropolitan Museum of Art recently acquired a small, meticulously brushed painting of a scene from The Tale of the Heike (Heike monogatari), Japan’s best-known medieval martial epic, which recounts events of the late 12th century and which was already circulating by oral and manuscript transmissions less than half a century later (Fig. 1). The compelling hanging-scroll composition was created, probably around 1640, by Iwasa Matabei (also transliterated Matabē; 1578–1650), one of the most innovative painters of the early 17th century.

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March/April 2020
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