Volume 16 (1998)

Images of Enemy and Self:
Russian "Popular Prints" of the Russo-Japanese War*

Yulia Mikhailova

"Popular Prints" in Russia
Images of War with Japan
Japanese Wartime Woodblock Prints: a Comparison

* I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all the staff of the Section of Prints of the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg, especially to Nataliia Rudakova, who generously shared with me their knowledge about Russian caricatures and prints. I am also greatly indebted to Hiroshima City University which provided me with a grant to do this research.

  1. The term "enmification" has been borrowed by me from Robert W. Rieber, Robert J. Kelly, "Substance and Shadow," in: R.W. Rieber (ed.), The Psychology of War and Peace: The Image of the Enemy, New York, Plenum Press, 1991, pp. 5-20.

  2. Lorand B. Szalay, Elahe Mir-Djalali, "Image of the Enemy," in: R.W. Rieber (ed.), op. cit., pp. 214-215.

  3. For example, enmification of Japan during the Second World War took place both in the US and the USSR, but with the end of the war relations between the US and Japan took the form of a teacher-student alliance, which did not happen in the case of the Soviet Union and Japan though the Soviet Union seemed attractive to some Japanese left wing intellectuals.

  4. See Yu. Mikhailova, "The Image of Japan in Russo-Soviet Japanese Studies," Japanese Studies Bulletin, Australian Association of Japanese Studies, Vol. 13, No. 2, 1993, pp. 59-74; S.I. Verbitskii, "Russian Perceptions of Japan," in: J.E. Goodby, V. Ivanov, N. Shimotomai (eds.), "Northern Territories" and Beyond, Westport and London, Praeger, 1995, pp. 63-69.

  5. V. Molodiakov, "Obraz Iaponii" v Everope i Rossii vtoroi poloviny XIX - nachala XX veka, Moscow-Tokyo, Institut Vostokovedeniia RAN, 1996.

  6. Ibid., p. 156.

  7. The word lubok (sing.), lubki (pl.) comes from the word lub (bast) which was at first used for their production. The term narodnye kartiny (popular prints) is also used as a synonym for lubki.
    The analysis of the "popular prints" (lubki) in this article is based on the collection of the Russian National Library, St. Petersburg. Another approximately identical collection exists in the State Public Historical Library, Moscow. The catalogue of the latter collection compiled by I.V. Levedeva (Russkii voennyi lubok [Katalog], part 2, Moscow, GPIB of Russia, 1995 [in Russian]) gives only a formal description of the prints, such as the name and the address of the workshop, the size of the print, the name of the text's author (when it exists), and the first and the last words of the text. My goal was not to make a descriptive inventory of the prints, but rather to concentrate on analysis of their contents.

  8. The production of lubki prints and books was forbidden by a decree of the Soviet government.

  9. N. Rudakova, " The Russian Lubok: Two Hundred Years of Popular Prints," in: Tradition and Revolution in Russian Art: Leningrad in Manchester, Manchester, Exhibition Catalogue, 1990, p. 66.

  10. Among the authors of texts for the "popular prints" of the Russo-Japanese War was, for example, a well-known writer of the time V. Giliarovskii who used the pen-name "Diadia (lit.: 'uncle') Giliash," a war writer and poet S. Sulin, pen-name - "Pika" (lit.: 'a lance'), a poet R. Mendelevich, pen-name "Mech" (lit.: 'a sword').

  11. R.A. Esthus, Double Eagle and Rising Sun: The Russians and the Japanese at Portsmouth in 1905, Durham and London, Duke University Press, 1988, pp. 198-199.

  12. In a very similar way the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor became an "indelible symbol of the Japanese treachery in the US and inspired an immediate commitment to a vengeful war without mercy." See: J. Dower, War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War, London, Faber and Faber, 1986, p. 181.

  13. N.S. Trubetskoi, The Legacy of Genghis Khan and Other Essays on Russian Identity, Ann Arbor, Michigan Slavic Publications, 1991.

  14. Later the artist N. Samokish, who worked as a war correspondent, even gained some fame after issuing an album. See N.S. Samokish, Voina. 1904-1905. Iz dnevnika khdozhnika, A Colored Autotype, St. Petersburg [1908].

  15. It is interesting that one of the Soviet histories of the Russo-Japanese War presents information about the defeat of a Japanese destroyer not as an objective historical fact, but citing the words of the commander of a Japanese destroyer Akatsuki who allegedly wrote: "[Another destroyer] began sinking quickly. I clearly saw its upper deck, a destroyed bridge, the opening in the chimney and clouds of smoke pouring out of it: the boilers seemed to have cracked. Shirakumo was sinking and no one could help her." See: I.I. Rostunov, Iu.I. Chernov, "Nachalo voiny i strategicheskoe razvertyvanie" in: I.I. Rostunov (ed.), Istoriia russko-iaponskoi voiny 1904-1905 gg., Moskow, Nauka, 1977, p. 120.

  16. The first figure gives the date according to the old Russian Julian calendar, the figure in brackets according to the Gregorian calendar.

  17. D. Rovinskii, Russkie narodnye kartinki, in 5 vols, Vol. IV, St. Petersburg, 1881, p. 425.

  18. K.K. Abaza, Beseda pro Iapontsa, St. Pertersburg, V. Berezovskii, 1904, pp. 33-34.

  19. N.I. Suvirov, Proshloe i nastoiashchee Iaponii, St. Pertersburg, V. Berezovskii, 1904, p. 13.

  20. R.M. Connaughton, The War of the Rising Sun and Tumbling Bear, New York and London, Routledge, 1988, p. 38.

  21. D. Rovinskii, op. cit., p.315.

  22. Vladimir Nabokov, Sobranie sochinenii amerikanskogo perioda v piati tomakh, St. Petersburg, Simpozium, 1997, p. 406.

  23. Ibid., p. 407.

  24. This comparison is based on E. de Sabato Swinton, In Battle's Light: Woodblock Prints of Japan's Early Modern Wars, Worcester Art Museum, 1991; Idem, "Russo-Japanese War Triptychs: Chastising a Powerful Enemy," in: J.T. Rimer (ed.), A Hidden Fire: Russian and Japanese Cultural Encounters, 1868-1926, Stanford, Stanford University Press and Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 1995, pp. 114-132.

  25. On "banal nationalism" see: M. Billig, Banal Nationalism, London, Sage, 1995.

  26. V. Molodiakov, op. cit.

  27. "V ozhidanii zheltoi opasnosti," Niva, 1905, No. 20, p. 400.

  28. Budil'nik, 1905, No. 47, Front-cover.

  29. Budil'nik, 1905, No. 31, Front-cover.

  30. K.K. Kawakami, Japan and the Japanese as Seen by Foreigners, Tokyo, Keiseisha, 1904, p. X.

  31. G. Smol'nyi, "Skaz o 'khrabrom' samurae,"Krasnoarmeets, 1939, No. 1, pp. 26-27; Krokodil, 1938, No. 20, Front-cover.

  32. Compare J. Dower, op. cit., pp. 187-189.