Kawanabe Kyosai 河鍋 暁斎: Tanuki as Daikoku, Tanuki on Washing Day

Kawanabe Kyōsai 河鍋 暁斎

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Artist: Kawanabe Kyōsai 河鍋 暁斎
Title: Tanuki 狸 as Daikoku, Tanuki on Washing Day

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, Disguised as Daikoku (doke Daikoku-no zu). Below, Washing Image (Gyozui no zu). Two entertainers draw a crowd with their Daikoku impersonation. One figure holds the Lucky God’s mallet and wears a mask and holds his scrotum over his shoulder as Daikoku’s lucky sack. His partner supplies the “rice bales” that Daikoku kneels upon. The crowd at right is delighted, and throw them offerings of coins, some wrapped in paper. To the left a tanuki carries the paper wrappings away, using his scrotum as a carryall. Below, a scene of washing day. The tanuki with the largest scrotum lounges in the heat, fan in hand, as a bath assistant scrubs with a towel on a pole and another assistant hoists the scrotum onto a clothesline of sorts. Another customer towels off in a round bathing tub while an assistant cleans his scrotum in a separate tub for him. Two children are running by, one carrying something useful in a sack. Perhaps soap? At left is a new arrival, taking in the scene, smoking a pipe and hefting his own large scrotum. Scarce.

Date: 1864
Condition: Very good impression, color and condition. Binding holes and minor wormage.
Dimensions: ôban (36.7 x 25 cm)
Publisher: Kobayashi Tetsujiro
Literature: Pictured in “Comic Genius: Kawanabe Kyosai” (1996), number 144, page 238.


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