Tame/reject wildness/violence with the sincere spirit of a filial child from the series Brocade Pictures for Moral Education

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Tame/reject wildness/violence with the sincere spirit of a filial child

(Volume 1, leaf 11, no. 12) from the series

Brocade Pictures for Moral Education

by Kobayashi Toshimitsu, 1883-84

IHL Cat. #430
title cartouche detail

About This Print

This print is number 12 (十二), "leaf" 11 (丁土 at bottom of title cartouche) in volume 1 (巻 left most characters next to series title on top of print) of the six volume series Brocade Pictures of Moral Education issued in 1883 and 1884 as primary school instructional texts.  These prints may have had additional pages of text accompanying them in the volumes.  As this print does not have an album backing, it suggests that the prints also may have been individually issued and sold.  The artists for this series appear to be students of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) including Kobayashi Toshimitsu (active 1876–1904) the creator of this design.  Keyes in his dissertation on Yoshitoshi1, states that Yoshitoshi's students Toshichika, Toshimine and Toshitsune designed "educational pictures."

In this print Yang Xiang (Yoko) rescues his father from a tiger who has threatened to eat him.  Yang yells at the tiger and offers himself in place of his father.  The tiger flees and the father is saved thanks to the exemplary filial behavior of his son.

For other prints in this series see Reform/rectify the ruler’s errors with tactful humor from the series Brocade Pictures for Moral Education and Yuchûkan repairing the manners/world of men from the series Brocade Pictures for Moral Education.

The National Diet Library database holds a number of Meiji era books on moral education.  The below volume published in 1884 is attributed to Yamana Tomesaburou and contains this print's scene on page 18 of 26 of volume 1 among lengthy text.  The full volume can be found at http://kindai.da.ndl.go.jp/info:ndljp/pid/757974/1 It remains to be seen whether the prints in this series were modeled after, or accompanied, these illustrated volumes.

The title for this illustration (2nd and 3rd columns of kanji text from the right) is identical with this print's title as seen in the detail of the title cartouche above.
Title appearing on cover of volume 1 which is identical to the series title for these prints appearing at the top of each print.

About The Series

"Shushin" and Brocade Pictures of Moral Education

Sources: Moral Education in Japan; Implications for American Schools (Thesis Research), Taku Ikemoto,
May 10, 1996 and "Moral education in Japan", Klaus Luhmer, appearing the Journal of Moral Education, vol. 19 no. 3, Oct. 1990, p. 172-182.

In the 1870s the Japanese government embarked on a program of modernization that included the establishment of a new educational system based on Western models. The 1872 Government Order of Education (Gakusei) which established a system of compulsory education stated, "We look forward to a time when there will be no illiteracy in any village house, no illiterate in any home."  Ethics instruction [and moral education]—which used teachings drawn from Japanese, Chinese, and Western sources—became an important component of the new curriculum.

Moral education was called shûshin 修身, which literally means "self-discipline," a word taken from one of the classics of Confucianism.  In the early days of the Meiji era there were no prescribed course of study or textbooks, tests or school marks. It was left to the imagination of the individual teacher how to handle this subject.

In 1879, most "Western sources" were removed from the moral education curriculum as a result of the Imperial Rescript on Education (kyogaku taishi)2, in which the "Emperor lamented the general decay of public morals, for which he blamed the influx of Western learning."  "[M]oral education, based on traditional spirit, was listed at the top of all subjects at elementary schools."

"Teachers were encouraged to enforce strict discipline, calling attention to the Confucianist moral concepts which enjoyed a long tradition in Japan. Shûshin received increased attention and its content and purpose was more clearly defined. A number of guides were published to serve teachers and school administrators as aids for enforcing the national spirit by means of this subject."

This six volume series, produced in 1883 and 1884, likely found classroom use for teaching shûshin.

The 1890 Imperial Rescript on Education (kyoiku chokugo) re-introduced the teaching of Western concepts and clarified the pillars of shûshin as State Shinto, Confucianism and modern political and social ethics, which included respect for the Constitution, observation of laws and calls for dutiful citizens who, should emergency arise, offer themselves "courageously to the State..."

The Rescript was invalidated in 1948.

1 Courage and Silence: A Study of the Life and Color Woodblock Prints of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi: 1839-1952, Roger Start Keyes, p. 546.
2 This 1879 Rescript should not be confused with the more famous 1890 Imperial Rescript on Education (kyoiku chokugo.)

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Tame/reject wildness/violence with the sincere spirit of a filial child, Number 12, Leaf 11
孝子の精誠能く猛獣を却  Kôko no makoto yoku takesa _ _
 Series Brocade Pictures for Moral Education, Volume 1
(錦絵修身談 Nishiki e shûshindan, maki ichi)
 Artist  Kobayashi Toshimitsu (active 1876–1904)
Right-most signature:  "Toshimitsu" followed by the character for ga (drawn by.)

Left-most signature: "Toshichika" followed by an unread character that was first thought to be aratame (indicating a change in the artist's name) and then thought to be eda (indicating support, aid, or assistance) and finally (which means "revised by.)

Assuming is the correct reading, we're left with "by Toshimitsu, revised by Toshichika."

[See the artist's biography for a discussion of the relationship of these two go (artist names.)]
 Seal  not sealed
 Publication Date  1883-1884
 Publisher  Matsuki Heikichi (松木平吉) proprietor of Daikokuya
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  fair - soiling throughout, not backed
 Genre  ukiyo-e
 Format  vertical oban
 H x W Paper
 13 3/4 x 9 1/4 in. (34.9 x 23.5 cm)
 H x W Image
 13 1/4 x 8 5/8 in. (33.7 x 21.9 cm)
 Collections This Print
 Ritsumeikan Art Research Center (ARC) Z0173-428