Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

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Kan’u (Guan Yu)

  • Description

    Kan’u was a military hero in third-century AD China. He spent his life fighting battles in order to establish his compatriot Ryūbi as rightful ruler in the Shu Province after the fall of the Han dynasty in AD 220. Kan’u lived to see Ryūbi become the Emperor Xuande, but was later executed by an opposing faction.

    Kan’u was deified as the god of war, not only for his military deeds but also for his unswerving loyalty. He was then incorporated into the Daoist pantheon. Kan’u is also depicted on the netsuke EA2001.45.

  • Details

    Take-offs Based on the Ogura Version of the ‘One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets'
    Associated place
    AsiaJapanHonshūKantōTōkyō prefecture Tōkyō (place of creation)
    AsiaJapanHonshūKantōTōkyō prefecture Tōkyō (place of publication)
    published 1845 - 1848
    Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797 - 1861) (designer)
    Matsushima Fusajirō (active mid-19th century) (block cutter)
    Fujiwara Yoshitaka (AD 954 - 974) (author)
    Associated people
    Ibaya Senzaburō (active c. 1820s - c. 1870s) (publisher)
    Guan Yu (died AD 219) (subject)
    Muramatsu Genroku (active c. 1843 - c. 1852) (censor)
    Material and technique
    nishiki-e (multi-block) woodblock print, with bokashi (tonal gradation)
    mount 55.5 x 40.3 cm (height x width)
    sheet 37.5 x 23.7 cm (height x width)
    Material index
    Technique index
    Object type index
    No. of items
    Credit line
    Presented by George Grigs, Miss Elizabeth Grigs, and Miss Susan Messer, in memory of Derick Grigs, 1971.
    Accession no.
  • Further reading

    Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 23 April-22 September 2013, Manjū: Netsuke from the Collection of the Ashmolean Museum, Joyce Seaman, ed. (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2013), illus. p. 31 fig. 25

Glossary (2)

netsuke, nishiki-e

  • netsuke

    The netsuke is a form of toggle that was used to secure personal items suspended on cords from the kimono sash. These items included purses, medicine cases or tobacco paraphernalia.

  • nishiki-e

    Nishiki-e literally means 'brocade pictures' and refers to multi-coloured woodblock prints.


    • currently in research collection

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