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Benkei, Minamoto Clan, The Gempei War, 1180-1185--single mounted figure

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Item Number: GMPM-02

Saito Musashibo Benkei, 1155 -1189, Minamoto Clan, The Gempei War, 1180-1185

THE GEMPEI WAR, 1180-1185

The Gempei War which took place between 1180 and 1185 was a national civil war between the Taira and Minamoto clans during the late Heian period of Japan. It resulted in the downfall of the Taira and the establishment of the Kamakura shogunate under Minamoto no Yoritomo, who appointed himself as Shogun in 1192, governing Japan as a military dictator from the eastern city of Kamakura.

The name Gempei or Genpei comes from the words Minamoto (Gen) and Taira (Hei, which was pronounced as pei).  These two families were fierce rivals, both were ancient families, descended from royalty.  The Heike or Taira had close ties with the court, and were well known as accomplished artists and men of letters as well as great warriors.  The Genji or Minamota were rustics, and each side derided the other for their chosen lifestyles.

Saito Musahibo Benkei, 1155 -1189, was simply known as Benkei, and was a warrior monk who lived in the latter years of the Heian Period (794 – 1185).  He led a varied life, first becoming a monk, then a mountain ascetic, and then a rogue warrior.  He later came to respect and serve the famous warrior Minamoto no Yoshitsune.

He is commonly depicted as a man of great strength and loyalty, and a popular subject of Japanese folklore, showcased in many ancient and modern literature productions.  Benkei was known to have armed himself with seven weapons, and is often depicted carrying these on his back.  In addition to his sword, he carried a broad axe (masakari), a rake (kumade), a sickle (nagigama), a wooden mallet (hizuchi), a saw (nokogin), an iron staff (tetsubo), and a Japanese glaive (naginata).

Released in SEPTEMBER 2023.