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An image of Tartars hunting by Unknown
Alternate image of Tartars hunting by Unknown Alternate image of Tartars hunting by Unknown


(Japan  – )

Tartars hunting
Other titles:
Hunting scene before the Emperor of Mongolia
Place of origin
Muromachi (Ashikaga) period 1392 - 1573 → Japan
circa 1550
Media category
Materials used
single six-fold screen; colours on paper

141.0 x 337.7 cm image; 154 x 348.6 cm screen

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of Paul Haefliger 1982
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

Japan's relationship with Chinese culture has always been a complex one of absorption, transmutation or rejection. The tensions inherent in the Japanese synthesis of China are evident in this rare and important screen. It illustrates a Chinese subject and technique, and a Japanese sense of space and empathy with nature. The scene, realised with orthodox Chinese brushwork, is a depiction of Tartars hunting, a popular Chinese subject from the thirteenth century. The Chinese both admired and feared the hunting and military skills of the fierce nomadic Tartars with whom they were frequently at war. The eye is drawn to the dense mass of figures in the upper left, typical of such scenes. This group is undoubtedly a representation of the infamous incident when a Hiongnu Tartar chieftain captured a beautiful Chinese lady and carried her off to Mongolia in 195 CE. She bore him two children and was deeply happy. When her family reclaimed her, forcing her from her husband and children, she composed poignant verses which have since become Chinese classics.

'Asian Art', AGNSW Collections, 1994, pg. 214.

Bibliography (3)

Christine France, Art and Australia (Vol. 37, No. 1), 'A Matter of Taste', pg. 75 - 81., North Ryde, 1999, 78 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'The World of Samurai Culture', Sydney, 2003, 212 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies, The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, 'Asian Art - India, South-East Asia, China, Tibet, Korea, Japan', pg. 173-228, Sydney, 1994, 214 (colour illus.).