Kuniyoshi, 24 Paragons of Filial Piety of Our Country - Hino Kumawakamaru

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

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Hino Kumawakamaru was the son of a fourteenth century counsellor to the Emperor. Exiled to Sado Island, the father was sentenced to death over wrongful accusations of treason. The monk presiding over the island, Homma Saburo was to carry out the execution and refused to let the boy see his father one last time. Homma, carried out the sentence and Kumawakamaru vowed vengeance, creeping into the monk’s room at night and killing  him in his bed.

The story is told in the Chronicles of the Taiheiki. The escape was dramatic since the boy had to get away from the compound and also the island. After the killing, he fled to hide in a bamboo grove. The guards, who saw small bloodstained footprints, went out in search of him. Faced with a deep moat, Kumawaka climbed onto a long branch of bamboo, and bent over by the weight of his body, it allowed him to drop over on the other side. He then headed for the harbour for a ship to take him back to the main islands.

Kuniyoshi here uses the dramatic escape as his subject and the bending of the bamboo tip to create tension across the corner of the design, the moat to the castle has here become a torrent beneath the boy’s feet.

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 impression all fine. Trimmed to the image.

Publisher: Murata-ya Tetsu

24.5 x 18 cm.