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Throne of Blood: As a Painting

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    Vili Maunula

    In a 1963 interview for the Cinema magazine, Kurosawa notes the following about Throne of Blood:

    In Throne of Blood I utilized the Japanese style of painting known as Mushare (warrior painting) in my overall design, and I borrowed forms from Japanese Noh drama in staging the dramatic elements of the film. My aim was to transform Shakespeare into pure Japanese by borrowing freely from Japanese art forms. (Cardullo, 29-30)

    While the Noh connection is often mentioned, I don’t remember reading anything about Mushare. Does anyone here happen to know more about this style of painting? I tried a few internet searches, but either the name is mistranscribed in the interview, or the Internet is simply silent on the subject (I couldn’t find anything with related search terms, either).

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    Jeremy

    Yeah, my love of guns and movies come together. These style of painting are popular to some people of the gun community, but no one really know nothing about them. I do know of guy that paid around $17,000 for an original one from 1850s.

    Recently used in a training program(this version photoshop’d of course):

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    🙄 Anyways…

    I’m not sure if there is a specfic question you have Vili, so I’ll just dump what I know.

    I’ve done a bit of research in these, in the past as it came up during research into Japanese warfare of wide range of years. The Japanese books when referring to the artist and information, are abnormally heavy on the kanji. Even once in Japan, I tried to get a hotel assistant friend and a library assistant to translate, but they both claimed a lot of the kanji was unfamiliar to them, and the few they could make out, or more commonly written in hiragana now. Whatever the case the information was limited for me.

    Anyways, Mushare sounds at least how I was told to pronounce it, the kanji to which I dont know how to type on a keyboard (only know 150 basic kanji) is written like this(I too not very artful in kanji):

    kanji

    ^^^^^


    ^^^^^

    Warrior


    Picture

    From a few old notes:

    I believe the style of painting is as early as the late 1700s, but more common towards the end of the 1800s. They tend to reflect scenes in Noh, with the most common by a artist I think named Yoshi, who painted largely scenes off the massive Noh play called “Taiheiki”. To which is reflected in the kanji in the background.

    The only images I have off hand:

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    Assuming it’s the same artist, often the painting were just honoring real Japanese wars, I think this off the Yamazaki battle in the late 1860s.

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    There of course many more artist, and I should have a bit more info and picture, but they will be on a computer currently packed away. I’ll try to come back to this thread. Hopefully something here is helpful.

    I too might have a link to a Japanese site that talks about this stuff, and written with hiragana over the kanji(Furigana) to help. I got these photos off that internet site a few years back, that I remember clearly.

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    Vili Maunula

    Thanks for all this information, Jeremy, as well as the beautiful pictures!

    I think that the pronunciation of the word (武者絵) is actually “mushae” (むしゃえ). I’ll have to dig deeper into all this to know what it is that I am actually after here — but I do see some relationship between these images and the angles from which characters are shot in Throne of Blood, as well as with the minimalism of the mise-en-scène employed.

    And the following does of course make one think of Washizu’s fate in the film.

    Taiheki

    I also notice that, at least in your selection, it is not the only picture with a warrior being made into a pincushion (to use Ugetsu’s term) — I wonder, was this a repeating motive in mushae, and if yes could it have influenced that final scene?

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    cocoskyavitch

    Actually, it appears to be hyphenated: http://www.aisf.or.jp/~jaanus/deta/m/mushae.htm

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    Jeremy

    Here’s another I found though Google Japan with a warrior being hit by arrows:

    4.

    In fact there are a few sites, on Google Japan with a bit of information when using the search term 武者絵.

    None of which are the site, I think I remember, so I’ll dig though my notes tonite.

    My lame attempt at phonetics: I pronounce it “moo-sha eh” which seems more correct giving “むしゃえ”.

    But my Japanese pronunciation isn’t so great that me giving the

    gentle rolling “r” sound, in the “r” in “mushare” makes much different.

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    Vili Maunula

    Coco: Actually, it appears to be hyphenated: http://www.aisf.or.jp/~jaanus/deta/m/mushae.htm

    Thanks, Coco! To the best of my knowledge hyphens, sometimes used in romanization to mark word boundaries (I think it’s becoming less common), have no real basis on the pronunciation, but if that’s the standardised way to spell it with the latin alphabet, it’s very good to know — makes searching easier and more to the point.

    Jeremy, “moo-sha eh” is probably pretty much “mushae” (/muɕae/ in IPA, I think), although you want to have your initial vowel short. Perhaps it already is — I have never been able to fully wrap my head around the Anglo-American way of noting down pronunciations. 🙂

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    Jeremy

    Hai, Maunula-sensei.

    Initial vowel is short.

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