The Twenty-four Chinese Paragons of Filial Piety,

Part II



Japanese name: Kôkyô (黄香)

Chinese name: Huang Hsiang

Legend: Kôkyô fanned his widowed father to cool him in the summer and warmed his father’s bed with his own body in the winter.  Here Kôkyô is preparing his father’s bed.

Robinson: S60.13


This is another version of the above print.  It is a less labor intensive printing than the above, which almost invariably means a later edition.  In this print, the shading (bokashi) in the upper sky was omitted.  There are fewer colors in the sky, in the foreground and in the father’s robe, indicating that the number of woodblocks was reduced.


Japanese name: Kwakkyo (郭巨)

Chinese name: Kuo Chü

Legend: Kwakkyo, lamenting the fact that his aged mother was going hungry because food was being eaten by his infant son, prepared to kill the baby.  While digging the grave he discovered a pot of gold with an attached note (or inscription) that the treasure was meant for him.

Robinson: S60.14


Japanese name: Shujushô (朱壽昌)

Chinese name: Chu Shou-ch’ang

Legend: Shujushô was separated from his mother at age seven and later became a high government official.  At age 55 he retired from office and began to search for his mother.  After much prayer and writing a sutra with his own blood he found his mother.  Here Shujushô is resting under a tree.

Robinson: S60.15


Japanese name: Enshi (剡子)

Chinese name: Yen Tzu

Legend: Enshi disguised himself in a deer skin in order to capture a doe, which he could milk in order to cure his parents’ eye disease.  Hidden in the deer herd he was mistaken for a deer by hunters who roundly scolded him.  However, when they heard his explanation the hunters had only praise.  Here Enshi and a hunter are conversing.

Robinson: S60.16

Japanese name: Saijun (蔡順)

Chinese name: Ts’ai Shun

Legend: During a famine, Saijun went into the forest to pick berries for his mother and divided his take into ripe and unripe berries.  Later, when accosted by brigands and asked about the berries, he explained that he intended to eat the unripe berries and give the ripe ones to his mother.  The rebels were so impressed that they gave Saijun some meat to take home.  Here Saijun encounters the brigands.

Robinson: S60.17


Another state of the above design


Japanese name: Yukinrô (庾黔婁)

Chinese name: Yü Ch’ien-lou

Legend: Yukinrô was a provincial governor who one day felt a pain in his chest and had a premonition that his aged father was ill.  Upon making the long journey home, Yukinrô found his father on his death bed and was told by a doctor that someone must taste the excrement of the sick man to determine if he would live or die.  Yukinrô performed the unpleasant task, and when he learned of his father’s impending demise, prayed all night that he might die in his father’s place.  Here Yukinrô is rushing home to be at his father’s bedside.

Robinson: S60.18


Another state of the above print


Japanese name: Rikuseki (陸績)

Chinese name: Lu Chi

Legend: When Rikuseki was six years old he was invited to the home of a wealthy neighbor where he was given some persimmons, which he slipped into his robes.  Upon leaving, the fruit fell out of his robes, and Rikuseki explained that he intended to take them home for his mother.  Here Rikuseki is being commended by the wealthy neighbor.

Robinson: S60.19


Japanese name: Chûyû (仲由)

Chinese name: Chung Yu

Legend: Chûyû carrying bags of ice on his back for his parents

Robinson: S60.20

Japanese name: Chôkô (張孝) and Chôrei (張禮)

Chinese name: Chang Hsiao and Chang Li

Legend: Chôkô and Chôrei were brothers who, to support their 80 year old mother, gathered berries in the forest.  One day on his way home Chôkô was attacked by robbers.  As he had no money, the robbers wanted to kill him, but Chôkô begged that he might first deliver the food.  Just then Chôrei appeared and offered his own life in place of his brother’s.  So impressed were the robbers that they set both brothers free and gave them salt and rice.  Here Chôrei is offering his own life in place of his brother’s. 

Robinson: S60.21


Japanese name: Ôhô (王裒)

Chinese name: Wang P’ou

Legend: Ôhô would rush to his mother’s grave during thunder storms to comfort her spirit, because she had feared lightning while alive.

Robinson: S60.22

Japanese name: Gomô (呉猛)

Chinese name: Wu Mêng

Legend: Eight year old Gomô would let himself be bitten by mosquitoes so as to spare his sleeping parents.  Here he is fanning mosquitoes away from his sleeping father.

Robinson: S60.23



Japanese name: Kôteiken (黄廷堅)

Chinese name: Huang T’ing-chien

Legend: Kôteiken was a famous Northern Song calligrapher and poet who was so devoted to his mother that he emptied her chamber pot himself.

Robinson: S60.24


I am grateful to Robert Pryor for this alternate state.


In keeping with the theme of this series, the title page was designed as an imitation of a Chinese stone rubbing, although it is actually a woodblock print.  Woodblock prints that mimic stone rubbings are called ishizuri-e.  The text is in Chinese characters rendered in seal script.  The frame is decorated with a bat and a stag antler.  The bat is a symbol for good luck, and the stag is a symbol for long life. 


The preface to this series is also an ishizuri-e with the text in Chinese.  Musa Dojin from Kyto is identified as the author.  This is probably the pen name of a well-known author, possibly Ryukatei Tanekazu, the author of the text on the individual prints in this series.




“Robinson” refers to listing in Kuniyoshi: The Warrior-Prints by Basil William Robinson (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 1982) and its privately published supplement.