'Tombs of the 47 Ronins, Yedo' [Tokyo, Japan]

No. 13 of 51 (PAJ2051 - PAJ2101): inscribed by the artist on the foot of the drawing, as title, preceded by the monogram signature 'JHB' and date '7/68'. The revenge of the 47 ronin is a national legend in Japan, exemplifying the samurai code of loyalty and honour called 'bushido'. It tells how a group of samurai who were left leaderless ('ronin' meaning a masterless man) after their feudal lord, Asano, was forced to commit ritual suicide (seppuku) for assaulting a court official. They avenged their master's honour by patiently waiting and planning for over a year to kill the official, which they did, but were then themselves forced to commit seppuku in February 1703 for the crime of murder. In fact only 46 did so. The last, absent on a related mission, was pardoned on his return on the grounds of his youth and lived to be 78, when he was buried with his comrades, beside Asano, at the Sengaku-ji temple in Edo (Tokyo): this also preserves their weapons and armour. Their graves are still a venerated site and are what Butt's view shows.

Object Details

ID: PAJ2063
Type: Drawing
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Butt, James Henry
Date made: July 1868
People: Butt, James Henry
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Sheet: 170 x 247 mm
Parts: Album of topographical views, mainly on the coasts of Japan, China and Formosa (Taiwan) (Album)

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