The Monsters’ Chûshingura

(Bakemono Chushingura, 化物忠臣蔵)

Publisher: Jôshû-ya Kinzô

1839-1842

 

In 1702, Lord Asano of Akô was provoked by Kira Kozukenosuke Yoshinaka into drawing his sword in the shogun’s palace, for which he was forced to take his own life, and his estate was confiscated.  Forty-seven of Lord Asano’s retainers, who were now rônin (samurai without masters), planned and carried out a successful attack on Kira’s palace.  Kira’s head was cut off with the same dagger Lord Asano used to commit seppuku.  (The term “hara-kiri”, although more common in English than “seppuku”, is considered in Japan to be a vulgar and disrespectful description of an honorable act.).  The 46 surviving rônin were forced to take their own lives.  These events were made into the play, Kanadehon Chûshingura.  This series of prints portrays monsters enacting the play.  This series is not listed in Kuniyoshi by Basil William Robinson (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1961).  The prints are each about 7 by 5 inches (18 by 12.5 centimeters), a size known as koban.  They were printed four to a 14 by 10 inch (36 by 25 centimeter) sheet, a size known as ôban. 

 

Act 1

 

Act 2

 

Act 3

 

Act 4

 

Act 5

 

Act 6

 

Act 7

 

Act 8

 

Act 9

 

Act 10

 

Act 11, Scene 1

 

Act 11, Scene 2

The three sheets of four images each may be arranged as a triptych.  This is a different state, with much more green.

    

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