23 February 2012

Political undertones in Japanese fart battle prints

Once again I can thank the Fortean Times and its Breaking News section for drawing my attention to an article that appeared in  Whats On Tianjin. I can assure you that I had never heard of this publication before although the original article appeared in the Mail


Looking at the pictures made me laugh. To all intents and purposes  the sight of Japanese men and women engaged in flatulent combat looks funny, after all who can resist a fart joke!

But the artwork, known as 'He-gassen' (or 'fart battle'), is apparently a pointed comment on political and social changes in Japan. Made by an unknown artist or artists, the scroll depicts a number of different scenes - all linked by the fact that at least one character is directing a debilitating blast of flatulence towards another character.




Such drawings were apparently created in response to increasing intrusion of Europeans in Japan during the Edo period - between 1603 and 1868.
 
The He-gassen pictures has specific meaning that would have been instantly interpreted at the time. By the middle of the 17th century, only China, the Dutch East India Company and a group of English traders were allowed in restricted sections of Japan.
Any other Europeans who landed in Japan were arrested and executed without trial.

While the He-gassen scroll looks ludicrous now, it was a comical depiction of Japan's serious xenophobia toward the end of this Edo period.

The country enjoyed relative isolation until Europeans and Americans - specifically Commodore Matthew Perry and his armada of 'Black Ships' from the U.S. Navy - forced Japan's opening to the world in the 19th century

Well there you have it and make of it what you will! I like that they are called He Gassen - they certainly do add a dimension to the idea of a divine wind! That said Shirl and I could give these fellows a run for their money on the fart stakes!

14 comments:

Don QuiScottie said...

Ha! Perhaps indeed a new and noble weapon to add to my armory and direct towards my foes? They have been warned...

jams o donnell said...

I would suggest a god carminative diet to ensure the potency of your flatulence dear Don!

susan said...

Is that why gas masks were invented?

jams o donnell said...

I'm sure it was a landmark in their development Susan!

nursemyra said...

Fascinating and funny, I'd never heard of this before

jams o donnell said...

This was new to me too Nursie

Dragonstar said...

I love this! Veggie soup with lots of onions helps the potency.

jams o donnell said...

Excellent advice!

CherryPie said...

Fascinating I have not heard of this before.

jams o donnell said...

I hadn't either before yesterday Cherie!

Sean Jeating said...

L'fart pour l'fart ...

jams o donnell said...

Indeed!

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Xenophobia expressed in flatulence... hm... that's cool ;-)

jams o donnell said...

Good eh?