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KUROFUNE KAWARABAN. PERRY AND THE BLACK SHIPS IN JAPAN. - Kawaraban or illustrated news sheet of a sumo wrestler defeating three American sailors while American and Japanese onlookers laugh and clap.

n.p. n.d. [1854]. Woodblock printed broadside 17x24cm. Some insect holes in the margins repaired. ¶ These illicit illustrated news sheets for the streets were produced by the million for a couple of hundred years so of course few survive. They were produced for anything more interesting than the drop of a hat and the arrival of the Black Ships, the American squadron commanded by Perry, in 1854 eclipsed any and all tiresome earthquakes, fires, plagues, famines, murders and scandals. For most Japanese this was the same as a squadron of alien space ships arriving on earth now. These prints are the kurofune kawaraban. A joyous depiction of perhaps the first international wrestling match in Japan? The text explains that first one, then two, then three foreigners took on the Sumo wrestler. Our artist captures the moment one hits the ground and the other two are about to follow him. The Americans are laughing hard enough to cry while two of the Japanese spectators take their role as critics or judges seriously. Are they a summation of Japanese reactions to the westerners: disapproval, delight and a clinical determination to do the job right? There exists a kawaraban perhaps by the same artist showing Sumo wrestlers delivering a gift of rice for the Americans to the beach close to their ships. Three wrestlers pirouhette and juggle hefty bales of rice like toys. There was quite a bit of fun in these meetings despite the arrogant aggression of Perry himself. The Ryosenji - the Black Ship Museum in Japan, which boasts the largest collection of Black Ship material - doesn't have a copy of this in their catalogue and I can't find one anywhere else.
AUD 1150.00 [Appr.: EURO 727.25 US$ 822.37 | £UK 637 | JP¥ 90939] Book number 9789

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