Twenty-four Chinese Paragons of Filial Piety

(Morokoshi nijshi-k, 唐廿四孝)

Publisher: Izumi-ya Ichibei



This series is unusual in that the shape of the title cartouche varies from print to print. Robinson lists only six prints in this series, and the total number is unknown. These prints are each about 10 by 14 inches (25 by 36 centimeters), a size known as ban.


Japanese name: Teiran (丁蘭)

Chinese name: Ting Lan

Legend: Teiran carved wooden images of his parents to which he regularly paid his respects. Returning home one day he found a frown on the face of the statue of his mother and learned that his wife had insulted his mothers memory. He apologized to the wooden image and severely scolded his wife. Here he is upbraiding two visitors who failed to show proper respect to his parents statues.

Robinson: S79.1

Japanese name: sh (王祥)

Chinese name: Wang Hsiang

Legend: When his stepmother wanted to eat fresh fish in mid-winter, sh went to a frozen pond and lay naked on the ice until it melted, in order to catch fish for her

Robinson: S79.2

Japanese name: Tei (董永)

Chinese name: Tung Yung or Dong Yong

Legend: Tei indentured himself to a weaver in order to raise money for his father's burial. One day he met a woman who, in the first hour after their marriage, wove enough silk to fulfill the terms of his contract and then revealed herself to be the Heavenly Weaver (Shokujo) before ascending to heaven. Here Tei meets the Heavenly Weaver on the shore.

Robinson: S79.3

Japanese name: Kwakkyo (郭巨)

Chinese name: Kuo Ch

Legend: Kwakkyo, lamenting the fact that his aged mother was going hungry because food was being eaten by his infant son, prepared to kill the baby. While digging the grave he discovered a pot of gold with an attached note (or inscription) that the treasure was meant for him. Here Kwakkyo and his wife discover the pot of gold buried outside their home.

Robinson: S79.4


Image courtesy of Gary D. Gross

Japanese name: Kkaku (江革)

Chinese name: Chiang Ko or Jiang Ge

Legend: Kkaku pleading with three armed robbers for the life of his mother who is kneeling in the roadway

Robinson: S79.5

Another state of the above design with the light blue sky reaching the ground on the left

Japanese name: Enshi (剡子)

Chinese name: Yen Tzu

Legend: Enshi disguised himself in a deer skin in order to capture a doe, which he could milk in order to cure his parents eye disease. Hidden in the deer herd, he was mistaken for a deer by hunters who roundly scolded him. However, when they heard his explanation the hunters had only praise. Here Eenshi is being shot at from a wooded hill by a hunter of markedly European appearance.

Robinson: S79.6


NOTE: This print has the same title (二十四孝童子鑑) and general format and as the 1840 series, Mirror of the Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety. However, it is dated 8th month of 1853, and Robinson lists it as part of the above series. I am grateful to Dom Gilormini for this image.

Japanese name: Kyshi (姜詩)

Chinese name: Chiang Shih (Jiang Shi)

Description: Kyshis wife carrying a bucket of water in the rain for her aged mother-in-law

Robinson: Unlisted

Japanese name: Chk (張孝) and Chrei ()

Chinese name: Chang Hsiao and Chang Li

Description: Chk and Chrei were brothers who, to support their 80 year old mother, gathered berries in the forest. One day on his way home Chk was attacked by robbers. As he had no money, the robbers wanted to kill him, but Chk begged that he might first deliver the food. Just then Chrei appeared and offered his own life in place of his brothers. So impressed were the robbers that they set both brothers free and gave them salt and rice. Here Chrei is offering his own life in place of his brothers.

Robinson: Unlisted


NOTE: This and the next image are preparatory drawing.

Japanese name: Shujush (朱壽昌)

Chinese name: Chu Shou-chang

Description: Shujush was separated from his mother at age seven and later became a high government official. At age 55 he retired from office and began to search for his mother. After much prayer and writing a sutra with his own blood he found his mother. Here Shujush is searching for his mother.

Robinson: Unlisted


Robinson refers to listing in Kuniyoshi: The Warrior-Prints by Basil William Robinson (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 1982) and its privately published supplement.