An image of Chang E flees to the moon


(Japan 1839 – 1892)

Chang E flees to the moon, from the series One hundred aspects of the moon

Not on display
Further information

Chang E, Jōga in Japanese, was the wife of Hou Yi an archer who served Yao, the mythical emperor of China. One night the moon was eclipsed and the emperor ordered Hou Yi to save it; so he shot arrows at the moon and it reappeared. His reward from the ‘Royal Mother of the West’, a Daoist deity, was a cup filled with the elixir of life. His wife stole the cup and drank it and then escaped to the moon where she reigned as goddess.

Yoshitoshi’s career straddled two eras – the last years of the Edo period and the first few decades of modern Japan following the Meiji Restoration in 1867. Initially enthusiastic and opened to Western influxes, he became increasingly sceptical about the loss of numerous aspects of traditional Japanese art and culture due to rapid industrialisation and Westernisation. In a time when modern reproductive technologies such as photography and lithography were introduced to Japan and enjoyed high popularity, Yoshitoshi concentrated his efforts in introducing new themes and techniques to the stagnant art of ukiyo-e colour woodblock prints, taking it thus to a new height, before it definitely declined after his death. His highly imaginative, often flamboyant and even disturbing depictions of historical events, warriors, beautiful women and the supernatural has led him to be recognised as the last great master of traditional Japanese woodblock print.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, August 2012.

Place of origin
Japan: Meiji period 1868–1912
Oct 1885
colour woodblock; ôban
39.0 x 26.0 cm
Signature & date

Signed and dated.

Yasuko Myer Bequest Fund 2012
Accession number