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Attention Japanese woodblock experts, looking for help with reference


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Hey guys,

I've been researching my next piece and I think I've narrowed it down to the idea of a Yoshitoshi print titled "Gosho Gorozo Battling a Shadow" from his book 28 Famous Murders. I love the image, but I'm not keen on getting a piece where I don't have a pretty clear understanding of the story. I've attached a photo of it for reference. I think someone could create a really awesome interpretation of the print, mixing wind bars into the shadow, etc.

I'm no expert by any means, so I'm looking for a little bit more of an explanation on the background of the print. From what I've found that the print references a play by Kawatake Mokuami titled "Gosho no Gorozo" and I've found loose translations of what this print depicts, but I thought I'd consult the experts here to see if anyone can give some more insight. Thanks in advance.

Also, I'm not opposed to suggestions of other woodblock prints that you think would make for great ideas for a piece as a 3/4 sleeve and chest plate.


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So after a few weeks of digging for info on the print I believe I just found an explanation. The short version is:

Gorozo is a samurai that needs to pay a debt for his ex-lord and has no idea how to get the money. He needs to support his former lord because it is dishonorable not to help him. The Lord racked up the debt paying for the company of a courtesan, whom he falls in love with.

Gorozo's wife is later confronted by Hoshikage Doemon, another samurai who is Gorozo's enemy and has long been in love with her. Doemon offers to completely pay off the debt, but forces her to divorce Gorozo to be with him before he does so. When she tells Gorozo she has to divorce him(she is sacrificing herself so her husband can maintain his honor. she plans to kill herself once the debt is paid, but does not tell Gorozo this) he is furious.

Gorozo later hides and waits for Doemon and his wife walking together and he attacks them with his sword. Doemon disappears by magic but he cuts the head of the woman off. Gorozo then finds out the woman was not his wife, but was in fact his former lord's lover. Later, when Gorozo realizes his wife's intention to kill herself for his honor, the two of them commit suicide together while tearing up the letter confirming their divorce.

So, the print is depicting the scene where Gorozo attacks Doemon and his ex-lord's lover. You see the woman's severed head on Gorozo's waist and the shadow figure is Doemon, magically dissolving into a shadow so he can escape.

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