Kunisada: General Guan Yu, One of the Five Tiger Generals (Goko shôgun no uchi: Kan’u)

Kunisada: General Guan Yu, One of the Five Tiger Generals (Goko shôgun no uchi: Kan’u)

Utagawa Kunisada

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Artist: Utagawa Kunisada
Title: General Guan Yu, One of the Five Tiger Generals (Goko shôgun no uchi: Kan’u)
Series: From Five Brightly Colored Banners (Goku saishiki gohon nobori no uchi)
Date: Tempo era (ca. 1835-37)

The Five Tiger Generals were heroes in the Chinese historical novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms (called Sangokushi engi in Japanese) which was written by Luo Guan Zhong in the fourteenth century, based on the Record of Three Kingdoms (called Sangokushi in Japanese) wrriten by Chen Shou in the third century. Romance of the Three Kingdoms covers the turbulant years from the end of the Han Dynasty which began in AD 169 and ended with the reunification of Three Kingdoms, Kingdom of Wei, Shu, and Wu in 280, when the Jing Dynasty became the defacto ruling dynasty in China. The Five Tiger Generals were generals of Kingdom of Shu: Guan Yu (? - 219), Zhang Fei (166-221), Zhao Yun (?-229), Ma Chao (176-222) and Huang Zhang (?-220). Guan Yu (?-219) met with Liu Bei (161-223) Zhang Fei (166-221) and pledged brotherhood in Tao Yuen, the Peach Garden in Zhuo county. According to the Record of Three Kingdom, the relationship of the three men was described to be “as close as brothers.” The oath served as a guiding principle for Guan Yu and influenced much of his later life. In Romance of the Three Kingdoms he was one of the most altered and aggrandised characters, which accounted for his popular image in Chinese society. He is depicted as a man with long beard, his eyes like that of a phoenix, his eyebrows like silkworms, and bearing a majestic look. Supposedly Guan Yu’s weapon was a guandao named Green Dragon Crescent Blade, weighing about 49.5 kg. The set of five images was designed to match Kunisada’s series of Japanese warriors, “Banners for Parlor Decorations” (Gohi zashiki nobori).

Dimensions: vertical nagaban
Publisher: Kinridô (Moriya Jihei)
Literature: Ref.:“Kunisada’s World” Japan Society, Inc. New York, 1993. p.165
Seal: his seal: Hanabusa Ittai; Censor’s seal kiwame
Signature: Kôchôrô Kunisada ga

SKU: KUS242


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