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A Thick-Skinned Face from the series Long Live Japan: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs

 

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

A Thick-Skinned Face

from the series Long Live Japan:

One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs

by Kobayashi Kiyochika, 1895

Juggler of the Chinese Ball from the series Long Live Japan: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs
IHL Cat. #50

About This Print

This print is one of fifty prints from the first part of the three part series One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs. (Hyakusen hyakushô) created by the artist Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915), the writer Nishimori Takeki (1861-1923), alias Koppi Dōjin, and the publisher Matsuki Heikichi (1870-1931).

Source: Kiyochika – Artist of Meiji Japan, Henry D. Smith II, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1988, p. 94.
A Thick-Skinned Face plays on the figure of speech that in both Chinese and Japanese means an impudent person; by extension, “to peel off the skin of the face” is to put such a person to shame. 

About The Series One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs

This series One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs was issued in three parts and presented parodies of the enemy, the Chinese in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 and ten years later the Russians in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. The first part of the series titled Long Live Japan: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs, consisting of fifty prints, was issued between September 1894 and August 1895.  The second part of the series titled Magic Lantern Society: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs, consisting of twelve prints, was issued between November 1895 and December 1896.  Both of these parts parodied (often in a racist manner) the Chinese people, leadership and war effort. The third and last part of the series, consisting of eight-six prints, used the same title as the first part Long Live Japan: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs.  Issued between April 1904 and April 1905, the prints parodied the Russian war effort. For more information about the series see the article One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs on this site.

Inscription

The text reads:
Some faces have thick skins, some don’t.  But in all the world there’s no more impudent, iron-skin-faced rascal than this one.  He knows neither shame nor dignity; this must be what they mean by a “thousand-layered face.”  So it’s no easy matter to put him to shame by pulling the skin off his face.  Maybe it’s like the old comic poem put it, “Each time the skin’s peeled, it gets thicker still.”

All right then, I’ll change the technique a bit, and try to shave it off from the side with a plane.  Gari, gari, scrape, scrape.  This rascal has the bad habit of looking down at others, so let’s start by shaving off the eyeballs.  Next I’ll shave off that haughty nose.  After that?  Well, he likes to talk big, so let’s pare off his mouth as well.

After some good gari, gari, scrape, scrape, even a callous rascal like this seems to be feeling it.
“Owww, it hurts, please, that’s enough, forgive me….”
“Nope, can’t forgive you yet.”
“Then, please just leave a single eye unshaved.”
“What do you plan to do with it?”
“It’s just to prove that you one and eye lost.”

Source: University of Vienna website http://kenkyuu.jpn.univie.ac.at/karikaturen/detail.asp?docid=897&lang=e&first=1

Inscription - Transcribed Romaji

Tsura no kawa ga atsui no atsuku nai no to itte oyoso sekai/jū ni kore hodo tetsumenpi no yatsu wa nai. Haji mo shiranakere/ba gaibun mo shiranai, tsura no kawa senmaibari to wa koitsura / no koto darō. Sono kuse hinmuita no wa nido ya sando de / wa nai no da ga
「Tsura no kawa mukareru tabi ni atsuku nari” to / iu furui senryū mo aru kara ōhō mukeba muku / hodo atsuku naru mono ka mo shiren. Yoshi yoshi kondo wa / sukoshi hōhō o kaete, katappashi kara kanna de kezutte / yarō gari gari gari soko de to, koitsu wa i/yani hito o misageru kuse ga aru kara, mazu kō medama / o kezuritotte, sore kara kondo wa kono kōman no hana o kezu/ru ka. Ē sore kara to, koyatsu wa mata tokaku ni ōbora o fuki/kusaru kara, kono kuchi mo kō kezuritotte to, shikiri ni gari / gari kezutte iru to, sasuga no mushinkei mo kore / ni wa sukoshi hēkōshita to miete 「Oi itai itai, mō / dōzo sono kurai de go-kanben o 「Iya mada kanben / wa deki nu 「Sore jā katahō no me dake wa sono mama kezu/razu ni oite kudasai 「Shite dōsuru tsumori da 「Iya kore ka/ra wa ichi moku oku to iu shirushi.

Inscription - Transcribed Kanji

厚(あつ)い面(つら)の皮(かわ) 骨皮道人 

面(つら)の皮(かわ)が厚(あつ)いの厚(あつ)く無(な)いのと云(い つ)て凡(をよ)そ世界(せかい) / 中(ぢう)に是(これ)ほど鉄面皮(て つめんぴ)の奴(やつ)ハ無(な)い、恥(はぢ)も知(し)らなけれ/バ外聞 (がいぶん)も知(し)らない、面(つら)の皮(かは)千枚張(せんまいば り)とハ此奴等(こいつら) / の事(こと)だらう、其(その)癖(くせ)ヒ ン剥(むい)たのハ二度(ど)や三度で / ハないのだが 「面(つら)の皮(か わ)剥(むか)れる度(たび)に厚(あつ)くなり」と / 云(い)ふ古(ふ る)川柳(せんりう)もあるから大方(おおほう)剝(む)けバ剝(む)く / ほど厚(あつ)くなるものかも知(し)れん、間(ま)て間(ま)て今度(こ んど)ハ / 少(すこ)し方法(はうはふ)を替(かへ)て、片(かた)ッ端 (ぱし)から鉋(かんな)で削(けづ)って / 遣(や)らう・・・ガリガリガ リ・・・其處(そこ)でと、此奴(こいつ)ハ イ/ヤに人(ひと)を見下(み さげ)る癖(くせ)があるから、先(ま)づ斯(か)う眼玉(めだま)/ を削 (けづ)り取(とつ)て、夫(それ)から今度(こんど)ハ此(この)高慢 (かうまん)の鼻(はな)を削(けづ)/るか、エエ夫(それ)からと、此奴 (こやつ)ハ又(また)兎角(とかく)に大法螺(おほぼら)を吹(ふ)き / 腐(くさ)るから、此口(このくち)も斯(か)う削(けず)り取(とつ)て と、頻(しきり)にガリ/ガリ削(けづ)つて居(い)ると、流石(さすが)の 無神経(むしんけい)も是(これ)/ にハ少(すこ)し閉口(へいこう)した と見(ミ)えて 「オイ痛(いた)い痛(いた)い、もう / どうぞ其(その)位 (くらゐ)で御勘弁(ごかんべん)を・・・・「イヤまだ勘弁(かんべん) / ハ出来(でき)ぬ 「それぢやア片(かた)ッ方(ばう)の目(め)だけハ其 侭(そのまま)削(けづ)/らずに置(おい)て下(くだ)さい「シテどうする 積(つも)りだ 「ハイ是(これ)か/らハ一目(もく)置(お)つくと云 (い)ふ印(しる)し

Inscription - Another English Translation (of above Transcribed Japanese)

A thick-skinned face Koppi Dōjin
Words can´t describe the thickness of their skin.  There is nobody on earth who is more arrogant and iron-skinned. He knows neither shame nor dignity; this must be what is called “a thousand layered skin”.  Even when we pulled up the skin two or three times, it is still thick. Maybe it´s like the old poem (senryū) put it: “Each time the skin´s peeled, it gets thicker still”.

Well, then I´ll change the technique a little bit and try to shave off with a planer one layer after the other. Gari gari, scrape scrape.

This rascal has the bad habit of looking down at us so I’ll start with the eyeballs. Next I’ll shave off their haughty nose. And after that?

All right, he likes to talk big, so let´s pare off the mouth too. And after some good gari gari, scrape scrape even a callous rascal like this here seems to feel something.
“Ouch, it hurts, please, that's enough…forgive me!”
“No, I can´t forgive you yet.”
“If that's the case, please just leave a single eye unshaved.”
“What do you want to do with it?”
“Well, it´s just to prove that you won (ichi moku oku – literally “to place ones eye” but also used in the meaning of “recognize the superiority of one´s opponent”)”

Image Description

Two men, a Japanese Soldier wearing a proper dark colored uniform and a Chinese Soldier characterized by his long pigtail are shown here.  The latter one is lying prone on the floor, his body raised on his arms while his counterpart is treating him badly with a plane. The Japanese has stepped on the back of the lying man and fines (sic) up the oversized head of the Chinese, one half is already gone. Instead fine shavings are covering the floor and shoulder of the man.Further tools like saws on the left and sanding blocks on the right hand are deposed in the background.(SH)

Interpretation   

The print is part of a series relating to the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), a conflict between Japan and China about interests in Korea.

In the text the war is presented as nemesis in punishment of the enemy´s arrogance. The Japanese soldier depicted here shows no emotion, without mercy he is going to shave one layer after the other to punish and humiliate his Chinese counterpart.

The text includes various punches. Finally, the maltreated Chinese is begging to leave one of his eyes unshaved, however the expression ichi moku oku has a different meaning too. It is also used for “accepting the supremacy on another”, for example in the game of Go.

A “thick skinned face” means a impudent person, the expression “to peel off the skin of the face” is used for putting such a person to shame.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 #50
 Title or Description  A Thick-skinned Face (Atsui tsura no kawa 厚い面の皮 )
 Series  Long Live Japan: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs. (Nihon banzai: Hyakusen hyakushô 本萬歳 百撰百笑 )
 Artist  Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915)
 Signature  Kiyochika
 Seal  Suisei
 Publication Date  February 1895 (Meiji 28)
 Publisher  Matsuki Heikichi (松木平吉) proprietor of Daikokuya
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  good - some soiling around margins, not backed, full margins
 Genre  ukiyo-esenso-e (Sino-Japanese War); giga
 Miscellaneous  
 Format  vertical oban
 H x W Paper
 14 1/2 x 9 3/4 in. (36.8 x 24.8 cm)
 H x W Image
 14 x 9 1/4 in. (35.6 x 23.5 cm)
 Literature
 Kiyochika: Artist of Meiji Japan, Henry D. Smith II, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1988, p. 94, pl. 103
 Collections This Print
 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 2000.208; Hagi Uragami Museum U01256; The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University Digital Archives Collection 201-1809; Östasiatiska musee (The Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Sweden) OM-2010-0007


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