An image of The village of Shi clan on a moonlit night - Nine-dragon tattoo


(Japan 1839 – 1892)

The village of Shi clan on a moonlit night - Nine-dragon tattoo, from the series One hundred aspects of the moon

Not on display
Further information

Shi Jin, a tattooed ‘tough’ man, was one of the 108 bandits in the thirteenth century Chinese tale "The Water Margin" ('Shuihu zhuan'), later translated into Japanese as 'Suikoden'. Here Shi Jin is fanning himself one evening under the moon as he finds out that his village is about to be attacked by three bandits. He catches them, but after hearing their poignant stories about why they became outlaws he releases them. By doing so, himself became an outlaw. He joined the group of bandits who threatened corrupt officials and landowners, becoming heroes in the eyes of the local people.

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
Nov 1885
colour woodblock; ôban
39.0 x 26.0 cm
Signature & date

Signed and dated.

Yasuko Myer Bequest Fund 2012
Accession number