Yoshitoshi 芳年: The Great Battle of Chinese and Japanese Animals 和漢 獣物 大合戦 之 圖.
Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi
Title: The Great Battle of Chinese and Japanese Animals 和漢 獣物 大合戦 之 圖.
Wakan kedamono ôkassen no zu. 和漢 獣物 大合戦 之 圖. Battle between Japanese and Foreign animals. In terms of translation, in the title: wa=Japan, kan= Chinese but in this case we can safely assume that “foreign” refers to the newly arrived foreigners in Japan. On the left we see Japanese animals charging and on the right the animals from other countries. The animal directing the foreigners seems to be an elephant, top right. Elephants are of course not native to Japan, but some white elephants were imported in 1728 from Vietnam on order of the 8th Shogun Yoshimune (1864-45). Later in 1813 an English ship brought the elephant and in 1862 an American ship also brought one. The water buffalo was popular in China and India. The Japanese animals all seem to be native to the country, such as the deer, boar, rabbit, badger, etc. The foreign animals seem to include a water buffalo and a tiger, although some animals have challenging features. A monkey carries a blue battle flag saying “Japan´s Best“ (Nihon ichi). We can safely infer that this echoes Yoshitoshi’s thoughts on the matter. Scarce.
Condition: Very good impression, color and condition. Two sheets with minor trimming. Smudges and minor wormage and creases.
Dimensions: ôban triptych (36.2 x 73 cm)
Publisher: Kameya Iwakichi
Literature: Saitama Prefectural Archives, and possibly the Ota Memorial Museum of Art. Seems to be Keyes #7 (dated 1859).
Signature: Oju Yoshitoshi --hitsu and Yoshitoshi --hitsu