Art Meets Taboo in the Tradition of Japanese Tattoos
signed Yoshitoshi with artist's seal Taiso, engraver's mark Yamamoto, and published by Akiyama Buemon, ca. 1886
oban tate-e 13 7/8 by 9 1/2 in., 35.2 by 24.1 cm
This print depicts O-Usu no Miko (lit. 'Little Prince Usu,' 81 A.D.-113 A.D.), a ferocious and violent warrior included in the 8th century histories, the Kojiki and the Nihonji. In this composition, O-Uso has disguised himself as a woman to infiltrate the dinner party of a rebelling tribe's chieftains where he would assassinate one of the chieftains and mortally wound another, earning the moniker Yamato Takeru (lit. 'bravest in Yamato'). As he draws back the curtain, Usu’s extended pinky finger and the curtain's patterns are visible through the smoke, a stylistic flourish which may reflect Western influence.
Though the date of publication is not marked explicitly, details along the left margin suggest that the print was published just prior to regulatory changes of 1887.
Publisher: Akiyama Buemon
John Stevenson, Yoshitoshi's One Hundred Aspects of the Moon, 2001, cat. no. 42
Japanese, 1839-1892, Edo, Japan, based in Japan