Artist Unknown

Kodomo takeuma asobi (Children Playing on Stilts)

  • 1868
  • Woodcut on paper
  • Gifted to the Gallery by William E Smith, 2003
  • 357 x 496mm
  • 2003/123

This Japanese woodcut, or nishiki-e, is from a larger series showing groups of children playing a variety of games. Here, one group balance precariously on stilts. Stilt-walking, or takeuma (literally ‘bamboo horse’), is an age-old children’s activity in Japan, but all is not quite as innocent as it seems here. This print was made to satirise the Boshin War, a civil conflict fought from 1868 to 1869 between the ruling Tokugawa dictatorship (shogunate) and a group representing the Imperial Court. To those in the know, these images critiqued the war, an activity that was heavily censored.

Ship Nails and Tail Feathers, 10 June – 22 October 2023

Exhibition History