Sino-Japanese War 1894-95: Yalu River. Campaign Sept. - Oct. 1894
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Fascinating triptych depicting two Manchurian soldiers spying on the Japanese camp near Sauhoku during the Sino-Japanese War. Both men wear tunics with a circular motif on the front, and their faces are painted giving them a fierce appearance. They ride small, rather shaggy ponies, and the leader carries a glaive and has a sword hanging from his waist. His companion has a woven hat slung at his side, the surface painted with a monstrous open-mouthed face. The men pause as they look out across the valley below, the sun rising in the distance.

Near Sauhoku, the Japanese encountered a Chinese offensive of elite forces from Manchuria, whose gallantry was legendary. Mounted Manchurian soldiers survey the Japanese camp in this print. Until then the Chinese had been either on the defensive or in flight, as stated in a Japanese report on this unusual battle: “Up to now the enemy’s customary tactic was defence. This time they pretended to take the offensive. It was bizarre. Unlike in the past, they attacked ferociously. We were outnumbered. Like an army of rats and dogs they used a hit-and-run for strategy but were no match for the Japanese forces under General Tatsumi, who had a devil’s wisdom and a god’s bravery.” Hakubunkan, comp., Nisshin sensō jikki (Tokyo), vol. 14 (December 1894), p.11.

Collections: Jean S. and Frederic A.  Sharf Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts.
The Lavenberg Collection of Japanese Prints.
Philadelphia Museum of Art.

References:  Illustrated in the 2001 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts publication “Japan at the Dawn of the Modern Age”, Catalogue number 55, p.103.
Illustrated in the 1983 Philadelphia Museum of Art publication “Impressions of the Front”, Catalogue number 40. p.31.
Illustrated in The Lavenberg Collection of Japanese Prints “Sino-Japanese War Prints (1894-1895)”, (IHL Cat. #81)

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