Kuniyoshi, 24 Paragons of Filial Piety of Our Country - Honma Suketada

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety of Our Country: Honma Suketada, 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).

The full title of this print is: Honma Gennai-hyoe Suketada poised to write his farewell poem on a torii at Shitennoji with blood from his finger after the death of his father Sukesada. The story is self explanatory, the picture illustrates Honma Suketada and his retainer, (oddly drawn in perspective) at the moment that he writes the poem on the gate at Shitennoji in his father’s blood.

The Honma clan  ruled the province of Sado, which is a small island off the coast of Honshu, between the 12th and 16th century. The previous print in this show also pertains to the island of Sado, by coincidence only.

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

Publisher: Murata-ya Tetsu.

24.5 x 18 cm.