We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Tartars hunting

circa 1550


Unknown Artist

Alternate image of Tartars hunting by
Alternate image of Tartars hunting by
  • Details

    Other Title
    Hunting scene before the Emperor of Mongolia
    Place where the work was made
    Muromachi (Ashikaga) period 1392 - 1573 → Japan
    circa 1550
    Media categories
    Screen , Painting
    Materials used
    single six-panel 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
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    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.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 4 publications