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Pair of Japanese wood block panoramas illustrating naval battle scenes taken from the scroll prepared for the Japanese samurai Sueaga after the Japanese victory over the Mongul invaders.

The Mongol ruler Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, defeated the Chinese Song dynasty and declared himself the first Emperor of China's Yuan dynasty. He demanded tribute from the Japanese sovereign which was not given. In consequence, in 1274 he invaded Japan, launching his fleet from Korea and landing his troops in Hakata Bay, near the present city of Fukuoka on the island of Kyushu. The Mongols had the best of the conflict until strong winds and high surf forced the Mongol navy to put to sea. Unfortunately they sailed into a typhoon with the result that a third of the fleet was sunk and a considerable number of the sailors and soldiers perished. The survivors limped back to Kublai Khan's China.

The Japanese government of Kamakura Shogun had no money to reward the victorious samurai, They insisted the landholders build a 25 kiometre defensive wall around Hakata Bay for protection from the inevitable future invasion attempt. The attack came in 1281in the form of two fleets. One from the Korean peninsula and the other, larger one, from southern China. Once again the numerical superiority of the Monguls was leading to defeat of the Japanese and again, another typhoon roared ashore at Kyushu and destroyed the Korean and Chinese fleets. Of the 4400 ships in the Mongul fleet, only a few hundred survived and all the sailors and troops were killed or drowned.To the Japanese, the typhoons were kamikaze or "divine winds".

Kublai Khan abandoned conquering Japan. The samurai again met without reward for their victory, which led eventually to the downfall of the Kamakura Shogunate. The samurai leader, Suenaga, commissioned a scroll describing the wars. Modern understanding of this turbulent period comes from this scroll and the legend of the kamikaze has given strength and inspiration to Japanese warriors up to the present time.

The legends associated with these victories have been printed and re-told during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These wood block illustrations originate from the original Suenaga scroll. This particlar edition dates to 1924.


On washi paper and in the Koban size format. Each of four sheets, joined.


Woodblocks, printed in colour.


190 x 580 mm. Image size.


Matted and framed.


[Wood blocks]. SINO - JAPANESE WARS 1274 & 1281. Pair.

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