Tomoe Gozen

Tomoe Gozen



Dimensions: 117 x 153 cm (W x H)
Type: Original
Medium: Mixed Media

Photography and mixed media on European Polar, box framed in black oak.

The story of Tomoe Gozen is shrouded in mystery, but she was known for being both beautiful and a mighty warrior in Japan during the 12th century. What’s truly impressive about the legend of Tomoe Gozen is not just that she was a female samurai (Onna-bugeisha who were Japanese women trained to protect their homes and families from invading forces), but that she was an elite warrior - an Onna-musha - who fought in offensive battles rather than just defensive.

Onna-bugeisha/musha were trained to use weapons including the kaiken, a short dagger, (as Martha has depicted her with) carried only by the samurai as well as the naginata, a long polearm with a long and curved blade, the sword as well as the bow and arrow. They were skilful in tantojutsu or knife fighting and fearless horse riders.

Tomoe Gozen lived during a period of great instability in Japan. Her exact birth date is unknown but there are accounts of her military career and personal life. Her final years are unclear and there are many theories, including one that she became a Buddhist monk. She was however considered to be a great female warrior.

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