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Inscription

by unknown hand, top center in graphite: 19B 09; upper center in graphite: 12; lower right in graphite: 91.4407; lower right in graphite: A; on verso, by unknown hand, upper center in graphite: 13; center in typeset print on paper label: REPRESENTATIVES OF NIO, THE JAPANESE HERCULES. / 1. / WRESTLING was first introduced as an athletic sport in the reign of the emperor Seima, 1145 years ago, / when Nara was the capital of Japan. Since that time wrestling matches have more or less been connected with the great religious ceremonies and festivals. They are often held for the benefit of the funds of some / temple needing repairs. Japanese wrestlers, much like English prizefighters, although they are recruited from the / lower classes, are allowed a certain familiarity with their superiors. They are invited to drinking bouts by their / patrons, and accompany the wedding and funeral processions of noble families. On their retirement from the ring / they often obtain employment in some menial capacity, such as that of Sandal-bearer, for instance, about the person / of some Daimio.

Provenance

Michael and Jane Wilson, Wilson Centre for Photography, London, acquired 1991; gift to NGA, 2012.