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Royalty and Rulers

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Chikanobu Yoshu, Japanese, (1838–1912)
A Depiction of the Commanders Responsible for Pacifying the Kagoshima Rebels Rec, 09/20/1877
Ink on Paper
13 15/16 in. x 28 1/2 in. (35.4 cm x 72.39 cm)

Object Type: print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Period: Meiji (Japan, 1869-1912)
Credit Line: Purchased with funds from the Aoki Endowment for Japanese Arts and Cultures
Accession Number: 2003.1.64

Alternate Title: Kagoshima Zokuto Chinsei yoso Shosho Tenpai Chodai no zu
Full Title: Emperor Rewards the Victorious Generals of the Kagoshima (Satsuma) Rebels

Signed: “Yoshu ga”

Colored ink woodblock triptych on off-white paper.

Object Description
The emperor and empress are shown on the dais at left overseeing the presentation of the Emperor's Gift Cups to military leaders involved in quelling Saigu's Satsuma Rebellion. Yamagata Aritomo, Commander of the Imperial Army in Kyushu, is seated in the lower left while senior officers Kawaji Toshiyoshi and Tani Kanjo are situated on the right side of the print. At rear in the adjacent room are officers Nozu, Mijo, Fukuhara, Takahashi, Okumoto and Okura. Oversized red lacquered cups have been filled with sake by imperial attendants carrying long handled gold lacquered ladles. Seating next to the emperor is the Prime Minister (Daijo daijin) Sanjo Sanetomi while Prince Arisugawa no miya Taruhito, Commander of the Imperial Armed Forces, is located near the empress and her attendant. At the center of the room around a floral arrangement of chrysanthemums are an elaborately dressed dancer and two young musicians, offering a congratulatory performance to those who had "evaded a rain of bullets" in valiantly executing orders to supress the Satsuma samurai. Behind the dancer are the political leaders Ninna-ji no miya and Iwakura Tomomi.

The print is dated 20 September 1877. Saigo and what remained of his army were still at large. After their defeat at Kumamoto, Saigo's men had split up, and spent August crisscrossing the island of Kyushu, trying to evade imperial army forces. By 01 September Saigo and about 300 followers made their way to Shiroyama, outside Kagoshima. Without much ammunition, food or medicine, they faced certain defeat, and when Yamagata attacked on 23 September, Saigo and his "loyalist" cause died. However, as historian Mark Ravina points out, the popular press and print publishers were preparing for Saigo's death by issuing a wide variety of reports and broadsides throughout September. The public was extremely curious about the Kaogoshima rebels and the well-known Saigo. Chikanobu was obviously responding to the demand for prints, but also may have felt a personal interest in the whole affair because of his own unsuccessful acts of rebellion after the 1868 Battle of Ueno.

For more information, please refer to the Chikanobu exhibition catalogue.

okura Magobei

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