Kuniyoshi, 24 Paragons of Filial Piety of Our Country - Imajo

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety of Our Country:Imajo, 1842. Chuban.

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The chuban format is rare in Kuniyoshi’s work, although he made several series of the 'morally improving' illustrations to this famous book of moral tales.  The book, entitled The Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety was written by the Guo Jujing during the Yuan Dynasty.  It recounts the self-sacrificing behaviour of twenty-four Chinese children who improved their parents’ lives or peacefully honoured their deceased parents. This series of prints portrays a more warlike lot of children from Japanese history and legend - several free their parents from captivity or avenge their parents’ deaths.  These exemplars of Confucian duty would have pleased the censors and there is speculation that they may have found an audience with parents as gifts to daughters, (along with volumes of explicit shunga).

This charming print shows a child of Takenouchi Village in Yamato Province catching carp in the river to feed his ailing parents. There is a lot of confusion in the retelling of these stories and ages, genders and places are changed at random by the authors. Depending upon the sensitivities of the political scene, liberties were also taken with the subject matter, famous actors sometimes standing in for historical figures for example.

Kuniyoshi made several series of prints of this book - it was a popular standby when actor prints and history subjects were banned, and many of his prints have distinctly western drawing and perspective. This series of 1842 is decidedly Japanese and, portrays a more warlike lot of children from Japanese history and legend with several freeing their parents from captivity or avenging their parents’ deaths. 

A fine print in chuban format. Colour, impression and condition fine. Trimmed to the image.

Publisher: Murata-ya Tetsu.

24.5 x 18 cm.