Catalog Archive
Auction 180, Lot 677

Russian Lubok of First Conflict in the Russo-Japanese War

"[Russian Lubok - Khot' Mal da Udal - Small But Dangerous]",

Subject: Port Arthur, China

Period: 1904 (dated)


Color: Printed Color

20 x 14.1 inches
50.8 x 35.8 cm

This propaganda broadsheet illustrates the Battle of Port Arthur in February 1904, which marked the commencement of the Russo-Japanese War. Russia is depicted as a prickly porcupine in Port Arthur, Manchuria. A Japanese naval officer stands in his destroyer after having attacked the porcupine, resulting in a handful of quills and blood. The title translates as "small but dangerous" to describe the porcupine. In the background, figures representing China and America shout warnings. Published by Litografiya A P Kurkin in Moscow.

This broadsheet is one of the satirical lubki that became popular in Russia during the Russo-Japanese War between 1904-05, before they were censored by the Russian government. The lubki typically depicted an overconfident Russia and often relied on racist imagery. They included limited text, often written in verse, which appealed to a wide audience. The Russian lubok of the Russo-Japanese War is often credited as alerting the Japanese to Russian weaknesses enabling the Japanese victory over Russia. The overtly nationalistic and optimistic lubki predicted an easy victory over Japan, which then dealt a severe blow to Russian nationalism after losing the war.


Condition: B+

Light toning with an archivally repaired tear that enters 3" into image at top.

Estimate: $350 - $450

Sold for: $200

Closed on 11/18/2020