Miyamoto Musashi Killing a Giant Nue (1830)

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About the Art

Legendary samurai swordsman Miyamoto Musashi pins an enormous writhing nue to the floor as he applies the fatal thrust with his spear.

Musashi, known for his deadly dueling skills and for wielding two swords at once, was also philosopher and writer of the Book of the Five Rings. A real historical figure, he is often represented in ukiyo-e prints in fantastic feats of combat and martial skill, against both real and mythical creatures.

In this print, we see Musashi wrestling a nue, a strange combination of various animals often seen in Japanese folklore. This particular monster seems to be a chimera with features of an alligator, snake and tiger rolled into one.

This is a classic Kuniyoshi print, full of energy, dynamism, detail and violent action.