.Interesting image from the Sino-Japanese War showing the masts of several ships from the Japanese Imperial Navy. A large hawk or falcon is perched on a boom at right, carefully eyeing several black birds swooping the sky. Yellow clouds streak across the scene and additional ships can be seen on the horizon at right. The title cartouche in the centre is delicately embossed with a cloth pattern.
“On the day of the battle in the Yellow Sea, before the start, two doves came flying over our Navy, and in the evening, after the battle, even during the battle, a falcon flew in and settled on the Takachicho’s mast, as a sign of good omen. The bird was caught and later on presented to the Emperor, at his Headquaters. It was fully unexpected and taken as an omen of victory. The flight of crows was regarded as standing for the downfall of the Chinese.” Nathan Chaikïn from the 1983 publication “The Sino-Japanese War”.
This print tells of the divine assistance Admiral Kabayama Sukenori received during the battle of the Yellow Sea. Two doves supposedly flew over the fleet and an eagle alighted on the topgallant mast of the Japanese warship Takachiho, remaining there throughout the fighting, and the flocks of crows common to the Hiroshima region appeared at the battle site, circling over the enemy position. The eagle was later presented to the emperor, who named it after the warship. It is said that the eagle was kept at an imperial zoo in Tokyo.
The eagle as an omen has a precedent in an ancient Japanese legend of divine assistance. According to a traditional myth, the legendary first emperor of Japan, Jimmu, while settling the territory that later became Japan, was surrounded by the enemy. Suddenly, a golden eagle perched atop his bow, blinding the enemy and leading him to victory.
The name of the battleship Takachiho also comes from a legend of imperial mythology. A descendant of the sun goddess was supposed to have come down from heaven upon the mountain Takachiho in ancient Japan, commencing the reign of the divine land.
From “Impressions of the Front by Shumpei Okamoto”, p.28. Catalogue Number 31.
The Basil Hall Chamberlain Collection.
The Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art
References : Illustrated in the 1983 publication “The Sino-Japanese War by Nathan Chaikïn”, pp.150-151.
Illustrated on the dust jacket of the 1983 publication “The Sino-Japanese War by Nathan Chaikïn”.
Illustrated in the 1983 catalogue “Impressions of the Front by Shumpei Okamoto”, p.28. Catalogue