Toyohara Chikanobu (1838 - 1912) 24 Paragons of Filial Piety: Chiang Shih, 1890. Oban.
The book 24 Paragons of Filial Piety was written by Guo Jujing in the Yuan Dynasty. Guo was a renowned poet but also well known for being a pious son in his own right. His grief at the death of his own father prompted him to collect twenty-four examples of exemplary filial stories and compose verse for them. To our eyes, the examples he chooses are ridiculous and at times horrific, but the book remained popular and prompted many ukiyo-e artists to illustrate it, Chikanobu among them. Chikanobu’s prints are mitate-e, satirical and punning pictures. In the upper register is an illustration of the original story and in the main picture, a modern counterpart to the story which uses women to comment upon the original text.
Here, Chikanobu takes a traditional theme and realises it in contemporary fashion. The story of Chiang Shih is described in A Chinese Biographical Dictionary (Herbert Giles 1898):
1st cent. A.D. One of the 24 examples of filial piety, in the practice of which virtue he was rivalled by his wife. The latter, because her mother-in-law preferred river water, used to trudge several miles every day to fetch it. An effort was also made to provide the old lady with minced fish, of which she was very fond; the upshot of all which was that one morning a spring, with a flavour precisely like that of river water, burst forth near their dwelling, and daily threw out on the bank two fine fresh carp. The Red-eyebrow Rebel, Fan Gh'ung, was so impressed with their filial conduct that he bade his soldiers spare their village, and even sent them food during a dearth, which Chiang Shih however buried in the ground. In A.D. 60, there was an Imperial levy of men of filial piety; and Chiang Shih received a Magistracy, at which post he died.
A lovely print, (the goldfish reminiscent of a satirical print by the same artist from 1886). Full size with margins and in very good condition. Fine colour and impression.
24cm x 36cm.