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Unidentified photographer/creator 
Three Samurais Studying Poetry, Meiji Period 
1875 (ca) 
  
Ambrotype 
3.5 x 4.75 in (89 x 121 mm) 
  
Charles Schwartz Ltd 
 
LL/23100 
  
An extremely rare and important image, redolent with historic, social, and literary detail. Some samurai were extremely well-educated, studying literature and poetry, and this may be the first photographic evidence of such. Seated in "heroic pose" and with their swords tucked in their "obi" (waist belt), these three young Samurai hold books, most likely indicating that they are part of a literary group that met regularly to study and write poetry. Behind them on the wall appear classic Confucian Analects, as well as a poem that begins "Light breeze is passing over the willows at the edge of a pond..." Condition note: the scratches over the face of the figure of the far left may well have been intentional. It was the practice, after the sitter in a photograph died (or perhaps was subject to disgrace) to mar or scratch out their visage. Scholarship/research on this image conducted by Henry Smith and Hiroshi Onishi in the mid 1990s. 
 

 
  
 
  
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