Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Woodblock print - Korean Horseback Acrobats
  • Korean Horseback Acrobats
    Unknown Kawachiya Rihei
  • Enlarge image

Korean Horseback Acrobats

  • Object:

    Woodblock print

  • Place of origin:

    Japan (made)

  • Date:

    1683 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Kawachiya Rihei (publisher)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Monochrome print from woodblock

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

During the reign of the Tokugawa dynasty in the Edo period (1615–1868) the Japanese viewed foreigners and their customs with a mixture of curiosity and suspicion. Foreign envoys and traders often introduced aspects of their country’s achievements to the military ruler of Japan, the shogun. In 1634 the third Tokugawa shogun personally requested a performance of mounted Korean acrobats. Such performances then became a frequent part of ambassadorial visits from the Korean court.

This print is taken from a twelve-print series of 1683 illustrating scenes from a performance given in 1682. The V&A owns eleven of the twelve prints. The first print of the series depicts dignitaries from the Korean court watching from seats of honour. The subsequent prints depict the Korean horsemen performing a variety of mounted acrobatics. The names of each stunt are noted next to the image. This is the ninth print and it depicts ‘Swapping Horses’. Other stunts featured in the series are ‘Snoozing on Horseback’ and ‘Riding Upside Down’. Koreans and Japanese watch from the sidelines, their facial expressions ranging from amusement to bewilderment.

Physical description

One of a series of twelve prints depicting Korean horseback acrobats performing for the Japanese government during the 1682 Korean ambassadorial visit to Japan. The V&A owns 11 of these.

Place of Origin

Japan (made)


1683 (made)


Kawachiya Rihei (publisher)

Materials and Techniques

Monochrome print from woodblock


Height: 25.5 cm, Width: 37.2 cm

Descriptive line

Pap, Japan, prints




Woodblock print


Politics; Prints


East Asia Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.