Kuniyoshi 国芳: Shutendoji Monster as a Nice Guy

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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861)
Title:  The Poetess Lady Koshikibu-no-naishi (小式部内侍)

Series: One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets 百人一首内 (Hyakunin isshu no uchi)
Date: c. 1842

Unusual depiction of the deadly ogre Shutendoji, showing him as nicely dressed, with his hair wild yet bearing a peaceful expression. The relationship between the poem and the Shutendoji is the reference to Mount Oe.

The Poetess Lady Koshikibu-no-naishi (小式部内侍) wrote the following famous poem, which has been translated as the following:

“By Oe Mountain/ The road to Ikuno/ Is far away/ And neither have I beheld/ Nor crossed its bridge of heaven.”

Hyaku-nin isshu is an anthology of one hundred poems by one hundred poets in tanka(waka) format that was compiled in the 13th century by the poet Fujiwara no Sadaie. Some of the designs portray the poets themselves, and some show scenes associated with their lives or poetry. Here the association of Mount Oe is of the infamous ogre Shutendoji, usually portrayed as a giant monster in a cave lair. We see him here nicely dressed, in mostly human form, on a lovely verandah with a Chinese-style hanging lantern above. He seems to even have children that he loves! Kuniyoshi could draw the same subject in a thousand different ways, and here is a rather unique depiction of this infamous monster as a cultivated giant who is enjoying the view with a half-smile. Kuniyoshi usually depicts the Shutendoji as truly monstrous, and about to get his just desserts from Raiko, who slays him after getting him drunk.

Condition:  Excellent impression. Very good color and condition.

Dimensions: ôban 37.6 x 25.6 cm 
Publisher:  Ebine
Literature:  Robinson S19.60.
Signature: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga 一勇斎國芳画