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Satō Tsuginobu from the series Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition (re-issue)


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Satō Tsuginobu

from the series Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition

by Kobayashi Kiyochika, 1902

IHL Cat. #575

About This Print

Print number 141 in the 1902 re-issued series Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition picturing Sato Tsuginobu on his deathbed in the arms of his commander Minamoto no Yoshitsune, for whom he sacrificed his life.  The re-issued series of prints eliminated the brocade borders of the original series issued between 1885 and 1890.

Kiyochika contributed 20 prints to this series.  As Smith states: "Thestyle of Kiyochika’s offerings to Instructive Models of LoftyAmbition was decorous and even stiff, as befitted the didacticemphasis of the whole [series.]"2

1 This number only appears on the 1886 originally issued print and not in the 1902 re-issue.  Even in the originally issued prints, print numbers were sometimes inadvertently omitted as they were reprinted; some prints in the series were never assigned numbers and a few of the same numbers appeared on different prints. 
2 Kiyochika Artist of Meiji Japan, Henry D. Smith II, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1988, p. 74.

dated 1886 in bottom cartouche
Image from Tokyo Metropolitan Library

dated 1886 in bottom cartouche

The Death of Satō Tsuginobu

The death of Satō Tsuginobu is told in the Heike Monogatari, an epic work that chronicles the Genpei War 源平合戦 (1180-1185), a conflict between the Taira and Minamoto clans during the late-Heian period of Japan which resulted in the fall of the Taira and the establishment of the Kamakura shogunate under Minamoto Yoritomo in 11921.

Felled by an arrow while shielding his lord Minamoto no Yoshitsune, Tsuginobu is carried to the rear where he dies holding Yoshitsune's hand.  As recorded in the Heike Monogatari, his last words are

I regret that I must die without seeing my lord rise to fame in the world.  Apart from that, he who wields bow and arrow must expect to meet his end before an enemy's shaft.  It is an honor for this existence and memory for the next that the war tales of future generations will record that 'In the war between the Minamoto and Taira, Satō no Saturōbyōe Tsuginobu gave his life for his lord on the beach at Yashima in Sanuki province.2

wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genpei_War
Warriors of Japan as Portrayed in the War Tales, Paul Varley, University of Hawaii Press, 1994, p. 138-139.

Transcription of Scroll

Source: with thanks to Yajifun http://yajifun.tumblr.com/

14 Satō Tsuginobu (Tsugunobu) 佐藤嗣信
教導立志基 十四 佐藤嗣信 小林清親 1886年5月21日
Transcription: [scroll text by 杏花樓しるす]
“佐藤嗣信(つぎのぶ)ハ義經の臣なり 八島の戰ひに教經精兵をして義經を射さしむ 嗣信身を以て義經を蔽(おほ)ひ射らる 教經の臣菊王其首を斬んとす 嗣信の弟忠信射て菊王を仆し兄を扶(たすけ)て還る 義經榮に到り嗣信を視 之を膝に枕せしめ言んと欲する所を問 嗣信曰 臣陸奥を出しより已に身を君に委ぬ 死ハ願ふ所也 只君の敵を鏖(みなごろし)にせざるを憾と為のミ と 義經泣て曰 我敵を鏖する旬日にあり 而して汝が勞に醻(むくふ)るに及バず と 嗣信謝して終に瞑す 義經僧を請ひ高松に送り厚く葬りしと云 杏花樓しるす”

About The Series "Kyōdō risshi no motoi"

1. This series is variously translated as "Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition," "Foundations of Learning and Achievement," "Foundation of Instruction and Perseverance," "Self-Made Men Worthy of Emulation," "Paragons of Instruction and Success," "Moral of Success," "Examples of Self-Made Leaders," and "Instruction in the Fundamentals of Success."  The title in Japanese is sometimes seen as "Kyōdō risshiki or "Kyōdō risshi no moto," in addition to the most commonly seen transliteration of "Kyōdō risshi no motoi".
2. For a complete listing of all the prints in the series and additional information please see the article on this site titled Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition.

This series ran between October 1885 and November 1890 and featured a long list of heroes and heroines, from antiquity to contemporary times, who were regarded as standards of moral leadership and self-realization.

Source: Kiyochika Artist of Meiji Japan, Henry D. Smith II, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1988, p. 74-75; original research and as footnoted.
This series of 58 prints,1 plus a table of contents sheet (目録), were originally published between October 1885 and November 1890 by the Tokyo publisher Matsuki Heikichi 松木平吉.2  The table of contents sheet issued by the publisher states that "fifty prints make up the complete set (五十番揃)".  Three prints not in the initial release were added over the five year publication period, as were five redesigns of original prints, eventually increasing the total print count to 58.  The seven artists contributing prints were Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915) [20 prints], Mizuno Toshikata (1866-1908) [16 prints], Inoue Tankei (Yasuji) (1864-1889) [13 prints], Taiso (Tsukioka) Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) [5 prints],  Yōshū Chikanobu (1838-1912) [2 prints], Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900) [1 print], and Hachisuka (Utagawa) Kuniaki II (1835-1888) [1 print].  All the artists, with the exception of Yōshū Chikanobu, are listed in the top scroll of the table of contents sheet.  Various colors (including blue, blue/green, and tan/brown) were used for the decorative border, and in 1902 the series was re-issued by Matsuki without borders.  

Brief texts contained within a scroll-like cartouche appearing on each print provide historical details.  The scroll composer's name is given at the end of the scroll text.  The “lofty ambition” of the title is a Confucian concept, originally from Mencius, meaning “righteous determination that would inspire others.”  The market for the series probably included former samurai, ambitious youth, and conservative intellectuals.

"[W]hen it was completed in 1890 the publisher was singled out for special recognition by the government for having sponsored such noble subject matter."3

1 The Tokyo Metropolitan Library online collection shows 50 prints and a Table of Contents sheet.  The Table of Contents lists the titles of 50 prints.  Smith in Kiyochika Artist of Meiji Japan identified 52 prints.  I have identified 58 prints from this series including five prints (Ikina, Michizane SugiwaraKesa GozenSoga Brothers and Hokiichi Hanawa) that were re-designed and re-printed, likely due to damaged or lost blocks.
2 Robert Schaap notes in Appendix II, p. 166 of Yoshitoshi, Masterpieces from the Ed Freis Collection, Chris Uhlenbeck and Amy Reigle Newland, Hotei Publishing, 2011 that the series originally appeared as newspaper supplements.
3 The World of the Meiji Print: Impressions of a New Civilization, Julia Meech-Pekarik, Weatherhill, 1986, p. 122.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Satō Tsuginobu 佐藤嗣信
 Series“Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition” (Kyōdō risshiki 教導立志基) [note: seriestitle also seen as  'Kyodo Risshi no Moto', ‘Kyodo risshi no motoi’,‘Kyōdō risshi ki’ and variously translated as “Moral of success” or“Foundations of learning and achievement” or “Self-made Men Worthy ofEmulation” or “Examples of Self-made Leaders” or "Paragons of instruction and success"] 
 Artist  Kiyochika Kobayashi (1847-1915)
 Signature Kiyochika
Kiyochika below signature

 Publication Date 1902 re-issue of 1886 original publication
 Publisher Matsuki Heikichi (松木平吉) proprietor of Daikokuya
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - backed and full size; minor soiling
 Genre ukiyo-e; rekishi-e; kyōiku nishiki-e
 Format vertical oban
 H x W Paper
 14 x 9 1/4 in. (35.6 x 23.5 cm)
 H x W Image
 12 1/2 x 8 1/8 in. (31.8 x 20.6 cm)
 Collections This Print