Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Xie Zhen, the Two-headed Snake (Ryōtōda Kaichin - 両頭蛇觧珍) from the series One Hundred and Eight Heroes of the Popular Shuihuzhuan (Tsūzoku Suikoden gōketsu hyakuhachinin no hitori - 通俗水滸伝豪傑百八人之一個)

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Dates: circa 1827 - 1830,created
Dimensions: 9.75 in,15.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Signed: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
Publisher Kagaya Kichiemon
(Marks 195 - seal 22-025)
Censor's seal: kiwame

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; British Museum; Tokyo National Museum; Muzeum Sztuki i Techniki Japońskiej Manggha, Krakow; Centre Céramique de Maastricht;

Physical description:

"Ryōtōda Kaichin hails from a family of hunters... [He] is large, squarely-built and has a purple-black complexion. [Kaichin and his brother] are falsely accused of tiger theft in chapter 48 and end up in prison. After their release... [they join the bandit/heroes.]"

In this print Kaichin catches his enemy Chōken. "Kaichin's purple-black skin is noted in the Shuihu zhuan but does not appear here..."

Source and quotes from: Of Brigands and Bravery by Inge Klompmakers, p. 174. Illustrated in a full-page, color reproduction on page 175.


Xie Zhen is first mentioned in Outlaws of the Marsh in Chapter 49. "At the foot of the mountain lived two brothers who were hunters. The elder was called Xie Zhen, the younger Xie Bao. Both used two-pronged spears of steel-flecked iron and were remarkably skilful fighters. Xie Zhen's nickname was Two-Headed Snake, Xie Bao's was Twin-Tailed Scorpion. Their parents were dead, and they had never married. The elder was tall, ruddy complected, with a narrow waist and broad shoulders."