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Attributed to Utagawa Kunisada II, 1823-1880
Modern Way of Military Commands
complete set of twelve deluxe prints with original fukuro; the wrapper decorated with a military hat revealing a 'memory'
of women; each print bears a cartouche with a military command accompanied by a rebus for the title: sonoba niyasune (halt), sasage tsutsu (present arms), nina-e tsutsu (right shoulder arms), katata tsutsu (rifle on shoulder), tsuki tsuke (thrust at), ute kakan (shoot bravely), uchikata yane (hold fire), ato-e sagare (fall back), koure tsutsune (wrap this), hirake hiyago, and shotai, ca. 1860s
each koban yoko-e approximately
3 5/8 by 4 7/8 in., 9.2 by 12.4 cm
fukuro 7 3/4 by 4 3/8 in., 19.8 by 11.2 cm (folded)
This curious set demonstrates the myriad of themes which could be utilized for a shunga series. In this case, the title cartouches have a rebus for a military drill command (i.e. fall in, attention, present arms, right face, left face, ready, aim, fire, at ease, etc.). Although firearms were introduced to Japan as early as the 13th century, they were largely abandoned when Japan closed to outside traders in the late 16th century). They were re-introduced when Japan opened to the West in 1854, and by the 1860s Japanese soldiers were equipped with guns and rifles.