A pair of 19th century Japanese lacquer plates, with powerful decoration of legendary heroes

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Object Description

From our collection of Japanese Meiji-era lacquerware, a pair of 19th century Japanese plates, with powerful decoration of legendary heroes.

Gyoji Busho (Wu Song, in Chinese) is a character from the thirteenth century Chinese novel “Shei-hu-chwan” by She Nai-an. The novel is a work of fiction based on a band of one hundred and eight outlaws who terrorised China in the Twelth Century. They are known as the Hundred and Eight Heroes of China and are favoured much in the way Robin Hood is in the United Kingdom.

The artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi illustrated the feats of all of them in a set of woodblock prints.

This plate depicts Gyoja Busho, also known as the hairy priest, he saves a village by killing a tiger with his bare hands. He is seen here with one foot pressing down on a tiger which he kills with his fist, he is a popular character in Japanese art and tattoos representing strength and bravery.

Arhat Nakasaina Sonja

Arhat Nakasaina Sonja (Xianglong Luohan, in Chinese) is known as the ‘Dragon taming Lohan’ a Lohan or Arhat is one who has reached a profound level of enlightenment similar to a Christian saint but in the Buddhist faith.. He is known for his healing powers and miraculous abilities, he is shown here subduing a storm dragon with the force of his gaze. The dragon represents the attainment of enlightenment and its submission glorifying the power of the Arhat.

Although they look similar and can be displayed as a pair, the two dishes do not really have any relationship to each other subject wise, as far as our research shows the two characters do not cross over in any if their stories, but both are revered heroes in Japanese folklore, and interestingly both subjects have been depicted by Utagawa Kuniyoshi a famous print artist.

Signed – “SHUNRYUSAI, TOKYO, GREAT JAPAN”. The art name Shunryusai literally means the Studio of Spring Willows.

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Object Details

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