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The Story of the 47 Ronin at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
Tale of the Forty-Seven Ronin: Act XI, Second Episode The ronin are attempting to break into the residence of Kira by forcing out the shutters with bent bamboos. By Hiroshige Ando (1797-1858) – AGGV 1962.216.001
VICTORIA, BC.- An honourable and tragic tale of the samurai of Japan is being told in a captivating new exhibition at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Virtuous Vendetta: The Story of the 47 Ronin in Prints runs from December 7, 2012 through March 31, 2013 in the AGGV’s Drury Gallery.

“This true story, which took place between 1701 and 1703, embodies the highest loyalty capable of members of the samurai class and dramatically illustrates the finest qualities in the samurai code of honour. It is the most celebrated example of loyalty and warrior ethics in Japanese history,” explains AGGV Curator of Asian Art, Barry Till.

The saga of the 47 Ronin began in 1700 when Lord Asano Naganori under the guidance of Lord Kira Yoshinaka, was commissioned to look after the emperor’s envoys during their visit to the shogun’s court. Lord Kira, known to be greedy and unethical, rudely insulted Lord Asano for refusing to bribe him for advice on official etiquette. Asano was so humiliated that in a rage, he drew his sword and wounded his tormentor on the forehead. To draw one’s sword within the shogun’s castle grounds was considered a very serious offense, and thus the authorities instructed Asano to commit seppuku or ritual suicide. With his death, his feudal retainers in turn lost their status as samurai, becoming ronin or masterless samurai. After patiently waiting and planning for over a year, the ronin execute a daring assault on Lord Kira’s estate, knowing that they would themselves be forced to commit suicide to atone for their crime.

Virtuous Vendetta features more than 60 woodblock prints from the AGGV’s renowned Asian collection, many by well known Japanese artists. The exhibition also includes video footage from some of the numerous movies and TV films on the subject.

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