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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:

    Unknown
    Kawachiya Rihei (publisher)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Monochrome print from woodblock

  • Museum number:

    E.2841-1913

  • 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)

Date

1683 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown
Kawachiya Rihei (publisher)

Materials and Techniques

Monochrome print from woodblock

Dimensions

Height: 25.5 cm, Width: 37.2 cm

Descriptive line

Pap, Japan, prints

Materials

Paper

Techniques

Woodblock print

Categories

Politics; Prints

Collection

East Asia Collection

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