Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳) (artist 01/01/1797 – 04/14/1861)
Wu Yong, the Clever Star (Chitasei Goyō - 智多星呉用), from the series One Hundred and Eight Heroes of the Popular Shuihuzhuan (Tsūzoku Suikoden gōketsu hyakuhachinin no hitori - 通俗水滸伝豪傑百八人之一個)
ca 1827 – 1830
9.75 in x 14.5 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese color woodblock print
Signed: (Ichiyūsai) Kuniyoshi ga - trimmed on right
Publisher: Kagaya Kichiemon (Marks 195 seal 22-025)
Censor's seal: kiwame
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts
National Museum of Japanese History
University of Tsukuba
Tokyo National Museum
Royal Museums of Art and History, Belgium (via Cultural Japan)
Art Institute of Chicago
The Catholic University of Leuven, via Europeana This is number 9 in Klompmakers' book, Of Brigands and Bravery.
Chitasei Goyō is one of 7 men who form a gang to rob the corrupt and evil governor of Peking of valuable gifts he is sending to his father. "An exceptionally wise man, Goyō is principally entrusted with decisions regarding strategic affairs and plans for the Ryōsanpaku gang." He also "...successfully devises the schemes leading to victories...
In time he and another cohort commit suicide together on the grave of Kohōgi Sōkō.
"This print belongs to the first set of five prints from the series that were released around 1827. In contrast to the other four - and indeed tot he majority of the series - this compostion of Chitasei Goyō is very static. Goyō is described in the Shuihu zhuan as having well-shaped eyebrows, a white face and a long beard, and Kuniyoshi remains faithful to this description in his design. Dressed in a robe decorated with birds and dragons, he stands next to a quadrant and a celestial globe. Befitting his station as a sage man, he radiates a sens of extreme serenity. Goyō is counting the stars with his fingers and is probably consulting them about a future undertaking by the bandits. The manner in which Kuniyoshi renders Goyō's head, visible through his diaphanous hat, is especially beautiful." Of Brigands and Bravery, p. 58.
Approximately twenty years after the creation of this print, Kuniyoshi produced another design for a Taiheiki series in which Tatenaba Kanbee Shigeharu is seen standing in an interior with a similar, if not the same, "celestial globe enclosed in an armillary sphere" near his feet. "In spite of the fact that Takenaka is unmistakably indoors, stars can be seen twinkling over his head. The astronomical - or to be more precise, astrological - accent in this portrait of a military advisor perhaps has its explanation in the ancient Chines idea of the identity of the ways of nature and society. Classical treatises on the military sciences prescribe that actions should be co-ordinated with the celestial signs. The arrangement of troops on the march in a big army was determined according to the disposition of the heavenly bodies, which were symbolically depicted on the army's standards. Moreover, an astronomic instrument was a general symbol of erudition."
Quoted from: Heroes of the grand pacification: Kuniyoshi's Taiheiki eiyū den by Elena Varshavskaya, Hotei Publishing, 2005, p. 68.
1) Kuniyoshi by Juzo Suzuki, Heibonsha Limited, Publishers, 1992, no. 81.
2) in black and white in Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Springfield Museum of Art, 1980, #7.
3) in a black and white reproductions in the Illustrated Catalogues of Tokyo National Museum: Ukiyo-e Prints (3), #3118.
4) in color in Kuniyoshi from the Arthur R. Miller Collection by Timothy Clark, 2009, #3, p. 41. Clark wrote:
"The inscriptions on the print describe Wu Yong as the 'military strategist' of the Liangshan marsh gang and give his nickname as 'The great intelligence (Clever star)'. He is one of a group of seven heroes, who, early in the tale plot successfully to steal treasures belonging to the evil governor of Beijing.... Wu Yong's tactic lead to victories over two imperial armies sent to recover the treasures. The print shows him counting with one hand, apparently making astronomical calculation (stars are visible in the sky) with the assistance of a quadrant and a celestial globe, which appear next to him. Kuniyoshi's image agrees broadly with the description of Wu Yong in the novel as having finely shaped eyebrows, a white face and a long beard. The brocade robe, richly decorated with dragons, and the diaphanous hat befit a scholar, and the pose is notably dignified and static compared with the others in the series. This is one of five designs named in the 1868 manuscript Shin zōho ukiyo-e ruikō (New Supplement to 'Thoughts on Ukiyo-e') as the first in the series and issued 'at the end of the Bunsei era [1818-30]..."
5) in black and white in Ukiyoe ni egakareta Chūgoku ten (浮世絵 に 描かれた 中国 展), Ukiyoe Ōta Bijutsukan, 1982, cat. #68, n.p.
6) in color in 'Suidoken revisited: The circulation and impact of Chinese editions in later Edo Japan (c. 1775 - 1868)' in Andon 107, April, 2019, by Frank Witkam, fig. 15, page 36. Witkam wrote: "In the early 19th century, places in China also came to be mapped as meishō zue in a publication titled Morokoshi meishō zue (Mappings of Scenic Places in China, 1805). This book includes encyclopedic information about local legends and customs, geographical maps, poetry and pictures of Chinese inhabitants and their material culture in various regions. For Kuniyoshi the book proved to be an invaluable work with firsthand accounts of China that he used in many of his print series based on Chinese narratives. In his image of Wu Yong, the strategic mastermind of the Suikoden outlaws in Tsūzoku Suikoden gōketsu hyakuhachinin no hitori, for example, we find a quadrant and celestial globe copied from Morokoshi meishō zue..."
7) in black and white in an article by Elena Varshavskaya, 'The celestial globe as an attribute of a military strategist' in Andon 55, November, 1996, fig. 2, p. 21. Varshavskaya wrote: "In depicting Wu Yong, Kuniyoshi follows closely the description of him given in the novel, with but minor deviations from the text: "In his looks he resembled a scholar. He wore a bucket-shaped hat that came down almost to his eyebrows. His loose gown with a tea-colored sash was lined with a wide dark border. .... His handsome and refined face was adorned with a long beard. This man was Wu Yong, 'Knowledgeable about the stars' ". Whilst retaining all the major features given in the above text, Kuniyoshi enriches the image of the learned man by a most significant addition: he gives the sage a celestial globe with attached sextant. Furthermore, he depicts this intrument [sic] in a detail that indicates a profound interest in the subject.
There is another copy at the University of Leuven.
Kagaya Kichiemon (加賀屋吉右衛門) (publisher)
warrior prints (musha-e - 武者絵) (genre)
Suikoden (水滸傳) (genre)