Reception at the Castle of Shui (Type II)

Click here for Pic of Entire Lithograph
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of complete lithograph

This lithograph depicts the reception for Commodore Perry at Shuri (Shui) castle. I don't believe this was one of the highlights of the Expedition. The Okinawan's had done all they could to discourage a visit to the royal castle. Commodore Perry insisted and arrived at the castle gate with a show of force.

Let me explain the situation this way. Suppose an Ambassador from Japan had shown up in the US and demanded to meet the President immediately. Then suppose the Ambassador presented himself at the front gate of the White House accompanied by a Company of Japanese soldiers (with weapons of course, to include a few cannons) for the meeting he required. Further assume that the President did not want to receive the Ambassador. That's pretty much what happened (in reverse) with Commodore Perry. The Queen Dowager begged off from the reception because of "being sick." The Boy Prince did not attend because he was considered to young (12 years old) for such a function.

Perry was received at the reception by the Regent¹ (perhaps not the Regent but a subordinate at that). The account of the actual reception was precisely one and one half paragraphs long and focused primarily on such things as the "weak tea" and "very tough ginger-bread" that were served.

It would appear that Commodore Perry did not see the Queen Dowager, the young Prince and the offical he thought was the regent was not actually the regent. Not much of a return for such an extensive show of military force.

I have recorded two basic types of the picture in this lithograph. I call this one Type II. To see the two types click here.

The titles/lettering read:

  • W. Heine (Only present on Type I)

  • T. Sinclair's lith Philada

  • Reception at the Castle of Shui

Condition. Very clean. Bottom edge (binding edge) is rough.

Landscape Format

Page Size (cm): 29.6x23.2cm

Image Size (cm): Width-23.5, Height-15.7, Diagonal-28.3

 
The central portion of this lithograph, which shows Perry and the Regent, was incorporated into a Ryukyu Islands postage stamp. This was Scott 27 and is shown below.


Scott
Ryukyu 10
Shuri
Castle

Scott
Ryukyu 14

 
Shuri Castle assumed a significant role in Commodore Perry's visit to Okinawa. It is commemorated on the above Ryukyu Islands postage stamps which show the main building of the Castle.

The castle was originally built in the 14th Century and served as the an official ceremonial building for Ryukyuan Kings from then forward. It is an ironic twist of fate that in a little over 90 years after Perry's visit, the Castle would be destroyed by United States Forces in the "typhoon of steel" that was unleashed on Naha during the battle of Okinawa. The castle site was rubble after the war, a haunting contrast to the toast by Commodore Perry to the Regent which is recorded in the Narrative as 'Prosperity to the Lew Chewans, and may they and the Americans always be friends' (page 192 of the Narrative).

The castle was reconstructed and opened to the public 1992.

 

 

1a. In a footnote regarding this section of the Narrative of the Expedition published by the Smithsonian Institution Press in 1968, the editor notes:

50. The Regent (sessei or kokusho) of Lew Chew throughout the time of Perry's visits was Sho Jun, of royal blood, who occupied the position from 1852 to 1860, under close scrutiny of the Satsuma clan, who had inspectors stationed there. To prevent his possible blundering in negotiations with foreigners, the regent's advisers (upon suggestion of the Satsuma inspectors) kept him hidden and created a foreign affairs position entitled tsung-li kwan or sorikan (literally a superintendent) who was presented to Perry as their highest ranking official. Thus when Perry speaks of the 'regent' he is referring only to a tsung-li or sorikan and he never did see the real regent.
1b. The previous discussion (1a, above) is contradicted by Seisho Hokama, a Professor of English at the University of Ryukyus, in his book Commodore Perry's Visit to Okinawa., 1962. Professor Hokama concluded that Perry met two different regents. The first was Shang Ta-mu, "a venerable old man." Perry met this "Regent" in his first visit to Lew Chew which started in May of 1853. When he returned in June of 1854 the "Regent" was a much younger man, Shang Hung Hiun. Perhaps Professor Hokama's account explains why there are two different lithographs of the Regent of Lew Chew that seem to show different men. In the Narrative, the second Regent is described as a "much younger man" "about forty-five years old."

 
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