Empress Jingū and Takenouchi no Sukune Fishing at Chikuzen

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Empress Jingū and Takenouchi no Sukune Fishing at Chikuzen

Series: A Mirror of Great Warriors of Japan
Japan, circa 1876
Prints; woodcuts
Color woodblock print
Image: 12 3/4 x 9 in. (32.3 x 22.8 cm); Sheet: 14 1/8 x 9 7/8 in. (35.8 x 25 cm)
Herbert R. Cole Collection (M.84.31.260)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

Empress Jingû (170-269), wife of Emperor Chûai, was a dedicated defender of the imperial court and remains an enduring symbol of beauty, luck, and devotion in Japanese culture....
Empress Jingû (170-269), wife of Emperor Chûai, was a dedicated defender of the imperial court and remains an enduring symbol of beauty, luck, and devotion in Japanese culture. Here we see the Empress fishing with her assistant, Takenouchi no Sukune, who always appears in depictions of Jingû. This scene takes place after the death of Jingû's husband, the emperor, who died as he planned to invade the Korean peninsula. Jingû and Sukune fish for offerings to the gods, and the trout she pulls out of the river in this print is a symbol of good luck, indicating to the empress that she should take over her husband's planned invasion. Legend has it that while Jingû led the invasion, she was able to keep her unborn son contained within her womb for three years to protect him from the dangers of war; when the invasion ended, she finally gave birth to Emperor Ojin. Today, Jingû is venerated as the Shinto goddess of safe delivery.
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About The Era

The spirit of the Japanese warrior has its roots in Japans classical myths from as early as the 4th century....
The spirit of the Japanese warrior has its roots in Japans classical myths from as early as the 4th century. These tales featured characters of profound physical strength with a quick mind and fierce sense of dedication to the emperor or ruling clan. These prototypical warriors had impressive pedigrees, often linking them to Chinese royalty or even gods, and their ambitions and feats often exceeded the expectations of their forebears. While many of these characters can be seen as examples of extraordinary achievement and talent at an individual level, they are also celebrated for their selfless devotion to their families, clans, and masters. A number of warrior legends from this period involve an aggressive expulsion of rebels and barbarians from what was considered imperial land in an attempt to maintain the integrity of the ruling clan against external threats. During this era, Japanese notions of a tragic hero, or “loser-hero,” were created, an archetype defined as a warrior who suffers an inglorious death or defeat after a life spent winning and completing noble deeds.
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