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Maker(s):Kobayashi Kiyochika; Daikokuya Heikichi, publisher
Culture:Japanese (1847–1915); Japanese (ca. 1820–1910)
Title:The Rats in a Bag [Fukuro no Nezumi], from the series "Long Live Japan: One Hundred Choices, One Hundred Laughs" [Nihon Banzai: Hyakusen, Hyakushō]
Date Made:1895
Measurements:overall: 14 11/16 in x 9 7/8 in; 37.3 cm x 25.1 cm
Accession Number:  AC 2005.177
Credit Line:Gift of William Green
Museum Collection:  Mead Art Museum at Amherst College

vertical ōban; nishiki-e

Label Text:
This print is signed in the lower-left with the artist's signature in black and seal in red, both reading "Kiyochika." The inscription, printed vertically on the left margin, identifies the publisher of this print as Daikokuya Matsuki Heikichi, along with his address in Tokyko's Nihonbashi and a publication date of April, 1895. The story accompanying Kiyochika's illustration was written by Koppi Dōjin, a pseudonym used by the newspaper writer Nishimori Takeki (1861–1913). The publication of this print coincides with the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki (April 17, 1895), ending the first Sino-Japanese war. The terms of the treaty were favorable to Japan, giving them dominion over Taiwan and the Liaodong Peninsula. In this work, Kiyochika represents the Japanese victory by depicting a Japanese warship in the guise of a cat, chasing two Chinese ships, here rendered as black mice, into a gift bag. The print contains many puns, which emphasize the nationalist sentiment that characterized Imperial Japan. For example, the title is a homonym for "One hundred battles, one hundred victories," while the Japanese word for bag — "fukuro" — can also be used to mean a "dead end," indicating that the rats are not only to be trapped in the bag but also that their demise is imminent and inevitable.

This series was originally issued from 1894 until as late as 1896. Despite its name, Kiyochika did not create 100 prints in this series. Beginning in March 1904, Kiyochika, Nishimori, and Matsuki revived the series, using the same title, but with humorous stories related to the Russo-Japanese War. That series ended in November, 1904.

For more information, see: Smith, Henry, 'Kiyochika: Artist of Meiji Japan," exh. cat. Santa Barbara Museum of Art(1988): 94–95 and 112–113.

art; painting; woodcut; text; narrative; symbolism; shipwrecks; animals; cartoons; color theory; smoke

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