Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Kanshin Humbles Himself and Crawls Through the Legs of Rogues to Gain Self-Control Kanshin matakuguri no zu (韓信胯潜之図)

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Dates: 1835,created
Dimensions: 30.375 in,14.75 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Signed: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
Publisher: Sanoya Kihei (Marks 446 seal 25-210)
Censor's seal: kiwame

Related links: Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna - center panel; Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna - right panel; Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna - left panel; British Museum; Late 19th century Kiyochika triptych of the same theme; National Museums of Scotland - right panel; National Museums of Scotland - center panel; National Museums of Scotland - left panel; Adachi Museum of Art;

Physical description:

The Fitzwilliam Museum owns a copy of this triptych. In their curatorial files they note: "The print was originally published by Sanoya Kihei around 1835; this is from the reissue with a different inscription at the top and a different censor’s seal. Kanshin (Chinese: Han Xin) became commander of the forces to the Emperor in Han dynasty China, and was renowned as a shrewd military tactician. This prints shows the legendary scene from his youth, when, passing through a market place, he found his way barred by an uncouth braggart who challenged him to fight. Rather than demean himself by submitting to a fight with such an unworthy opponent, Hanshin crawled through the legs of the man in order to proceed on his way."

There is also key block version of this triptych in the Fitzwilliam Museum collection. The curatorial notes state that: "The space for the censor’s and publisher’s seals has not yet been carved." It was once owned/peddled by Frank Lloyd Wright.


There are more than two different editions of this triptych. One early one with a yellow ground, like this one, and another one with a blue ground. The example in the Fitzwilliam Museum has a Tanaka censor's seal on it dating from ca. 1843-45. The Lyon Collection triptych must surely be earlier because it has the kiwame censor's seal, as do they examples in the British Museum and in Vienna. The Fitzwilliam also notes that the text at the large is different.


Both triptych variants, blue and yellow ground, are illustrated in color in 歌川国芳展: 生誕200年記念 Utagawa Kuniyoshi: Exhibition to Commemorate the 200th Anniversary of his birth, 1996, #s99 and 100, p. 94.


Also illustrated in:

1) in color in with the blue ground in Kuniyoshi by Jūzō Suzuki, Heibonsha Limited, Publishers, 1992, no. 202.

2) in color in 原色浮世絵大百科事典 (Genshoku Ukiyoe Daihyakka Jiten), vol. 4, p. 46.

3) in black and white in Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Springfield Museum of Art, 1980, #91.

4) in small black and white reproductions in the Illustrated Catalogues of Tokyo National Museum: Ukiyo-e Prints (3), #3114-16.


There is a copy of this triptych, but with the blue ground in the Adachi Ward Museum (足立 区立郷土博物館所蔵), Tokyo.