Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国) (artist 1786 – 01/12/1865)
Zhang Fei (張飛 - Jp: Chōhi) thundering at Changban Bridge (長坂橋)
ca 1822 – 1826
10.25 in x 13.75 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese woodblock print
Signed: Gototei Kunisada ga
Publisher: Kawaguchiya Uhei (Marks 232 - seal 21-142)
Censor's seal: kiwame
Hagi Uragami Museum of Art
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - a similar representation by Kuniyoshi from ca. 1836
Rijksmuseum - ca.1816 surimono of Chōhi on the bridge
The belligerant figure of the mounted warrior Chōhi (aka Zhang Fei), armed with his formidable spear, warding off the enemy hordes on Changban Bridge. Chōhi was a warrior hero of The Wars of the Three Kingdoms in the early third century. One of Kunisada's rarest early musha-e designs.
The Romance of the Three Kindgoms is a popular subject of the Beijing opera and other theater forms in China. In a footnote in Marionette Plays from Northern China there is a footnote that clearly describes what leads up and includes the scene that is presented here by Kunisada. "In chapter 42 of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Zhao Yun 赵雲 rescued Liu Bei's son at the slope of Changban 长板坡 while being chased by the forces of their enemy, Cao Cao 曹操. Zhang Fei met them at Changban Bridge 长坂桥, also known as Dangyang Bridge 当阳桥... Sitting on his horse on the bridge, Zhang Fei gave three such fearful, thunderous roars that Cao's army was scared away."
A description of Zhang Fei
"The story goes that there was a man named Zhang Fei, also known as Yide, who hailed from Fanyang in Zhuo Prefecture, in the princedom of Yan. From birth he had the head of a panther and round eyes, the jowls of a swallow, and the whiskers of a tiger; his body was more than nine feet tall, and his voice resounded like a huge bell. He came from a very rich family. Because he was idly standing outside, he saw Lord Guan pass through the streets: his physique was extraordinary, but his clothes were in tatters—he was not a local man. So he stepped forward and greeted Lord Guan with a bow, which the latter returned."