Regent of Lew Chew (Type A)

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This lithograph is entitled Regent of Lew Chew. At the time of his visit there was a king but he was too young (12 years old) to receive the Perry party.

Perry arrived off Naha on May 25, 1853. On the 30th the "Regent" made an official call on Perry aboard the Susquehanna. The Regent, Shang Ta-mu, was described as "...a venerable old man...." (p 155). Shang Ta-mu entertained the American party at his official residence on June 6 after the "non-reception" forced by Perry at Shuri Castle. Perry departed Okinawa for a short trip to the Bonin Islands and on his return on June 28, found a new Regent, Shang Hung Hium, ...a much younger man..." (p 215). The speculation was that the old Regent had been replaced because he was too conciliatory toward the Americans. Commodore Perry met with two different Regents (at least he believed them to be Regents) during his trips to Lew Chew. Perhaps this accounts for the fact that there are two different lithographs that show the "Regent of Lew Chew."

The individual in the picture are wearing "hatchee-matchees," (hats) a symbol of high status.

There are two very different versions of this lithograph. I call this one Type A. To see the differences in the two types (A & B), click here.

The lettering reads:

  • Dag and drawn by Brown

  • Ackerman Lith., 379 Broadway, N.Y.


Right edge (binding edge) is ragged with small pieces missing. There is some wrinkling and creasing in the right margin also.

Paper thickness is 7+mm.

Portrait Format

Page Size (cm): 29x23.2cm

Image Size (cm): Width-16.5, Height-23.1, Diagonal-28.4


Attribution: This lithograph has been positively confirmed to be from the Beverley Tucker, Senate Printing (1856), of the Narrative.


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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