December 17, 2004–June 6, 2005

Pursuits of Power

Falconry and the Samurai, 1600-1900

The samurai of seventeenth-century Japan faced a perplexing new problem: peace. They needed new outlets for their military skills and energies. Falconry, the sport of hunting using trained birds of prey, suited these new needs perfectly. The fondness of early shoguns for falconry, both as a sport and as a way to demonstrate their authority, is reflected in the art they commissioned and their adoption of birds of prey as symbols of their potency.

"Pursuits of Power" offers a new perspective on players, politics, and power in early modern Japan, using this unusual subject to take a fresh look at the MFA’s world-renowned Japanese collections and includes several important loans.