Good condition, please see description.
Woodblock print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) - 'Oribe Yahei Kanamaru' from the series "Stories of the True Loyalty of the Faithful Samurai" - Japan - 1847.
Oban size approx. 37.2 cm x 25.5 cm.
Good condition, backing, please view the photos.
No. 21, Oribe Yahei Kanamaru, from the series Stories of the True Loyalty of the Faithful Samurai (Seichû gishi den).
The story is situated in Ako, in the year 1701. Together with another lord, the feudal lord Asano Naganori (lord of Ako) had to receive envoys from the emperor. These envoys were on their way to the shogunate in Edo (present-day Tokyo). A master of ceremonies with a lot of power in the shogunate, Kira Yoshinaka was displeased by the few gifts that Asano had given him. He taunted Asano and the other lord and refused to cooperate. It got to the point where the lord of Ako lost his composure and drew his sword in the castle of the Shogunate and injured Kira on the forehead. Drawing a weapon in the castle of the shōgun was a capital crime and Asana was convicted by committing seppuku.
Promptly all his samurai became rōnin. The leader of the samurai, Ōishi Kuranosuke was of the opinion that Kira was also responsible and drummed up 46 other rōnin to take revenge. Kira, however, expected this and kept a close eye on the rōnin. The rōnin realized that they were expecting revenge and embarked on a plan to deceive Kira. They became artisans, tramps, beggars. Kuranosuke even became a so-called drunk, divorced his wife and openly visited prostitutes. Everyone despised him and nobody expected the true nature of their intentions. In 1702, after a year of waiting, the rōnin attacked the house of Kira. They found him, trembling and shaking in a room. Because of the scar on his head, there was no doubt about his identity. The rōnin decapitated him and moved on to the tomb of Asano. Ōishi sent one of his rōnin, Terasaka Kichiemon, to spread the story of the rōnin as a witness to the event. Meanwhile, the group moved towards the Sengakuji temple where the tomb of Asano was located. They washed the head of Kira in a nearby well and presented it as a gift to their deceased lord. Then they voluntarily surrendered to the magistrates and the court. Although they were sentenced to seppuku, the 47 rōnin immediately became heroes. Even the shōgun admired their deed. They had an unparalleled popularity among the population. Although the primary goal of the rōnin’s mission was revenge and loyalty, they also wanted to restore lord Asano's good name and reinstate his power in Ako. Because of the mass publicity and the public pressure, the Shogunate decided to give the eldest son of Asano 1/10th of his father's original territory. After the samurai had committed seppuku, their graves were placed at the grave of their lord at the Sengakuji temple. This temple also became the final resting place of Kira.
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