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Zavtrak Kazaka [Cossack’s Breakfast]

  • Publisher: Izdanie tipo-lithografii Russkogo Tovarischestva' Pechat'i izdatel Moskva [Russian Comradeship (Private) Printing House, Moscow]
  • Engraver: Izdanie tipo-lithografii Russkogo Tovarischestva' Pechat'i izdatel Moskva [Russian Comradeship (Private) Printing House, Moscow]
  • Date: 1904
  • Dimensions: sheet: 39 x 55 cms


Satirical Russian broadsheet from Russo-Japanese war [1904] – a small Japanese soldier prepares to be consumed by a giant Cossack

About this piece:

Zavtrak Kazaka [Cossack’s Breakfast]

Russo-Japanese war satirical broadsheet, in the form of a traditional Russian “lubok” with rayeshnik-style rhyming verse below. Printed on relatively thin early 20th Century newsprint paper. Wide margins. Bright vibrant colours. Imprint of Moscow military censor in lower right dated 21st April 1904. Sheet numbered “No.15” in lower left side margin.

Another Gulliverian caricature published in Moscow in April 1904 and again contrasting the height and size of the Russians compared to their diminutive oriental foes.

In this instance  a giant ginger-bearded Russian Cossack stands mouth agape as he swings a small Japanese soldier in the air, causing him to drop his flag. The suggestion is that he is about to be consumed whole. The neatly buttoned white Japanese boots that he wears were apparently an object of some fascination for those who applied the colours to these often vibrantly bright Russian posters.

The Cossacks were the traditional mounted cavalry of the Russian army and, in European circles, since at least the mid-18th Century, had always been considered the most hardy, loyal, and obedient of Russian soldiers and a reputation as one of the wildest & most terrifying of adversaries, not least amongst Russia’s indigenous population, where they were often deployed to suppress civil disobedience and popular demonstrations. In fact there was a considerable discrepancy between the reputation and the reality – many Cossacks were still armed with sabres and lances and proved increasingly ill-equipped for the demands and requirements of the modern battlefield. The determined martial qualities and tight organizational structures of the Japanese armed forces would highlight many of these evident failings & deficiencies within the Russian Army in the ensuing conflict.

As usual, the rayeshnik-style rhyming verse has the Cossack telling his victim that the Japanese will not forget if they fight the Cossacks: “If you dare to come and be my guest….I will have you for breakfast” concludes the ballad.