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Rochishin in a drunken rage

Rochishin in a drunken rage

Rochishin in a drunken rage smashing the guardian figure at the temple on Five-crested Mountain
Rochishin ransui godaizan kongôjin o uchikowasu no zu

Colour print from woodblocks, with textile printing (nunomezuri) and burnishing (shômenzuri); blackened white lead.
Ôban format vertical diptych.
Block-cutter: Negishi Chokuzan.
Publisher: Matsui Eikichi. 01/09/1887
Keyes 498

This subject is from the Chinese novel Shuihu zhuan (The Water Margin), known in Japanese as Suikoden, which tells of the legendary exploits of a group of Chinese brigands during the Northern Song dynasty (1101-26). It was retold in a popular Japanese novel illustrated by Hokusai, and was the subject of Kuniyoshi’s first set of warrior prints in 1827.

Yoshitoshi had made earlier prints based on Suikoden, including a print in this vertical format published the previous year.

After killing a man in a fit of rage, military captain Rotatsu (Lu Da) escaped a death penalty by becoming a monk at a temple on Five-crested Mountain, where he was given the name Kaoshô Rochishin (Lu Zhishen).

He was unable to reform his appalling behaviour, and could not be punished because of his violent temper and prodigious strength. One night he staggered back drunk and tried some physical exercises at the temple gate to prove his strength. He accidentally knocked down part of the gate, and in his drunken surprise saw the guardian statue looming above him and attacked it.

Rochishin was persuaded to leave the temple shortly afterwards, eventually linking up with his friend and fellow outlaw Rinchû. Kuniyoshi had also made prints portraying Rochishin as a hirsute, muscular figure with cherry-blossom tattoos. Roshishin became known among the Suikoden as ‘The Tattooed Monk’. Elaborate tattooing from neck to knee is still popular among Japanese gangsters today.

Purchased from the Rylands Fund with a contribution from the National Art Collections Fund, 2003


Themes associated

Combat Heroes Tattoos
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