Brother Pictures for the Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety

(E-kydai uchibiki ni-j-shi k, 繪兄弟道引二十四孝)

Publisher: Kazusa-ya Iwaz


The book entitled The Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety was written by the Chinese scholar Guo Jujing during the Yuan Dynasty. His pen-name was Yizi, and he is known in Japan as Kaku Kyokei. The book recounts the self-sacrificing behavior of twenty-four sons and daughters who go to extreme lengths to honor their parents, stepparents, grandparents, and in-laws. The word e-kydai is usually translated as brother pictures, and in ukiyo-e it usually indicates two apparently unrelated pictures having a common element. In this series, full-length pictures of beautiful women are paired with one of the twenty-four paragons of filial piety. This series of prints is listed as number 122 in Kuniyoshi by Basil William Robinson (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1961). The prints are each about 14 by 10 inches (36 by 25 centimeters), a size known as ban, and the total number of prints in the series is unknown.


Inset: Taishun (Ta Shun in Chinese) is being helped by elephants and birds cultivate his parents fields.

Main picture: Beauty freeing birds from a cage in front of a picture of an elephant



Inset: sh (Wang Hsiang in Chinese) went to a frozen pond and lay naked on the ice until it melted in order to catch fish for his stepmother

Main picture: Beauty catching a fish from a dock


Inset: Teiran (Ting Lan in Chinese) paying his respects wooden images of his parents

Main picture: Standing beauty looking over her right shoulder


Inset: Shujush (朱壽昌, Chu Shou-chang in Chinese) searching for his mother

Main picture: Standing beauty with a closed umbrella


Inset: h (王褒, Wang Pou in Chinese) rushing to his mothers grave during thunder storms to comfort her spirit, because she had feared lightning while alive

Main picture: Beauty using a screen to shelter herself from a storm


Inset: Gom (呉猛, Wu Mng in Chinese) is carrying a smoking pot to keep mosquitoes away from his sleeping father.

Main picture: Beauty blowing into an oven through a hollow cane


Inset: Binshiken and his stepmother carrying her child

Main picture: Beauty carrying her child with a cat watching


Image courtesy of John Rose and Auction Ukiyo-e Ltd.





Inset: Ms (孟宗, Mng Tsung in Chinese) gathering bamboo shoots in the snow for his ailing mother

Main picture: Beauty collecting bamboo shoots