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Virtuous Vendetta

The Story of the Forty-seven Ronin in Prints

December 7, 2012 - December 7, 2012

Curated by Barry Till  |  Drury Gallery

This true story, which took place between 1701 and 1703, embodies the highest loyalty capable of members of the samurai class and dramatically illustrates the finest qualities in the samurai code of honour.  It is the most celebrated example of loyalty and warrior ethics in Japanese history.

This classic saga begins in 1700 when Lord Asano Naganori under the guidance of Lord Kira Yoshinaka, is commissioned to look after the emperor’s envoys during their visit to the shogun’s court.  Lord Kira, who is a bit greedy and unethical, rudely insults Lord Asano for refusing to bribe him for advice on official etiquette. Asano was so humiliated that in a rage, he drew his sword and wounded his tormentor on the forehead.  To draw one’s sword within the shogun’s castle grounds is a very serious offense, and thus the authorities instruct Asano to commit suicide (hara-kiri).  With his death, his feudal retainers in turn lose their status as samurai, becoming ronin, which means masterless samurai.  After patiently waiting and planning for over a year, the ronin execute a daring assault on Lord Kira’s estate, despite knowing that they would themselves be forced to commit suicide to atone for their crime.

The exhibition features more than 50 woodblock prints by various well known artists, enhanced by video footage of the numerous movies and TV films on the subject.

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