Kawanabe Kyōsai 河鍋 暁斎: Tanuki 狸 Relaxation and Tanuki Affliction

Kawanabe Kyōsai

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Artist: Kawanabe Kyosai (1831-1889)
Title: Tanuki 狸 Relaxation and Tanuki Affliction
Series: Japanese Badger Jokes (Tanuki no tawamure)
Date: 1864/4th month
This series deals with the exaggerated scrotum of tanuki, a kind of Japanese badger. The size of the scrotum of the tanuki is described in Japanese  “as large as eight tatami mattresses“ (hachi-jó jiki), and the Japanese used this as a tremendous opportunity for amusement.  Kuniyoshi  was well known for his humorous prints that cover this subject. Not be outdone in the humor department, Kyosai here is giving his formidable talent at giga-e a turn, borrowing the subject from his teacher. Above is “Relaxed Picture” (Raku no zu) and below is “Diseased Picture” (Senki no zu). In the relaxed scene, above,  child climbs atop a large quiltlike  cover as his mother comfortably nurses her baby beneath it and a nursemaid (or grandma) fusses at him for climbing too high. We see the father at right, who is reclining, and reading a book. He is the source of the “quilt”, or rather, it is his scrotum which is providing comfort to the family. Above left we see a tanuki with a large container of sake and some food laid out beneath him. He seems a little drunk, and his scrotum is draped over him in a comforting way. At right is another man stretched beneath his own scrotum quilt, a youngster exclaiming at a book that features a picture of a tanuki. At bottom is a different scene. An unwell tanuki is having his pulse read by the doctor tanuki, who kneels and concentrates. His own scrotum peeks from beneath his robes, but we can assume that this is a normal occurence. The wife tanuki kneels nearby, looking worried. A servant brings a cup of tea, and a child pulls at the servant’s sleeve. The afflicted organ is so large it fills the entire picture frame. Scarce.

Condition: Very good impression and color. Good condition. Binding holes and repaired wormage.
Dimensions: ôban (36.7 x 24.9 cm)
Publisher: Kobayashi Tetsujiro
Literature: See “Comic Genius: Kawanabe Kyosai” (1996), numbers 144, p. 238.
Signature: Shosho Kyosai and hanmoto noôju (upon request of the publisher)


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