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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Li Kui, the Black Whirlwind, also called Iron Ox (Kokusenpū Riki - 黒旋風李逵), from the series The Hundred and Eight Heroes of the Popular Suikoden (Tsūzoku Suikoden gōketsu hyakuhachinin no hitori - 通俗水滸伝豪傑百八人之一個)

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Dates: circa 1830,created
Dimensions: 9.5 in,13.75 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print
Inscription:

Signed: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
一勇斎国芳画
Publisher: Kagaya Kichiemon
(Marks 195 - seal 22-025)
Censor's seal: kiwame

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; British Museum; Chiba City Museum of Art; Lyon Collection - another copy;

Physical description:

We first encounter Li Kui in Chapter 38 of the Outlaws of the Marsh on page 194. Song Jiang and Dai Zong were having a friendly chat.

They talked intimately and without reserve. Before they had finished more than two or three cups of wine they heard a tumult of voices on the floor below. The waiter hurried into their room.

"Who's raising all that row down there?"

"It's that brother Li we often see you with, the man called Iron Ox. He's trying to borrow money from the host."

Dai laughed. "That rascal is misbehaving again. I could imagine who you meant." To Song Jiang he said: "Excuse me a minute brother. I'll bring him up."

Dai went down the stairs and soon returned with a big dark-complected fellow. Song Jiang was taken aback by the man's appearance.

"Who is this brother?" he asked the superintendent.

"One of our prison guards, Li Kui, from Baizhang Village, Yishui County, in Yizhou Prefecture. He's nicknamed Black Whirlwind. In his naive parts he's also known as Iron Ox. He had to run away from home because he beat a man to death. He wandered to Jiangzhou and here he's remained, although later there was an amnesty. Because he's nasty when he's drunk, many people are afraid of him. He can wield two battle-axes, and he's good with fists and cudgel. He's on our prison staff.

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This print is listed as #22 in Klompmakers' book Of Brigands and Bravery.

Kokusempu Riki (otherwise called Ritetsu-Gyu) in a drunken fury attacking the gate of the Hakuryojin temple with a huge axe; another axe already buried in the woodwork (he had been expelled from the temple, of which he was formerly a priest).

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Li Kui is one of the heroes mentioned the most often in the Suikoden. Perhaps hundreds of times. In Chapter 38 he is described as “One of our prison guards, Li Kui, from Baizhang Village, Yishui County, in Yizhou Prefecture. He's nicknamed Black Whirlwind [黒旋風]. In his native parts he's also known as Iron Ox. He had to run away from home because he beat a man to death. He wandered to Jiangzou and here he's remained, although later there was an amnesty. Because he's nasty when he's drunk, many people are afraid of him. He can wield two battle−axes, and he's good with fists and cudgel. He's on our prison staff.” He was often drunk and violent and was forever hitting people up for money.

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Also illustrated in Kuniyoshi by Juzo Suzuki, Heibonsha Limited, Publishers, 1992, no. 84.

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There is another copy of this print in the Hachinohe Clinic Machikado Museum.