Kiyochika: Hell Courtesan and the Priest Ikkyû (Sold)

  • Sold.

Artist: Kobayashi Kiyochika
Title: Hell Courtesan and the Priest Ikkyû Japanese Title: “During the Period of Kenmu Engen 550 Years Ago” (Kenmu Engen no koro imayori saru 550nen)
Series: True Picture of Present and Past: With Reference to Ukiyo-e (kinko seiga ukiyoe ruikô no uchi)
Date: 1884, 10th Month

Here we see the “Hell Courtesan” Jigoku Daiyu, seated at right with her two attendants. Her kimono is decorated with scenes of beings undergoing torment in hell. The Buddhist priest Ikkyu stands at left, holding a skull to indicate mortality. The name “Hell Courtesan” was given to Hotoke Gozen, a courtesan in Sakai in Izumi Province (Osaka). When the monk Ikkyû (1394-1481) visited the area, he composed a poem referring to hell. Then the courtesan added the perfect last line to it. Since the meeting with Ikkyû she transformed into a very good Buddhist practitioner. Santô Kyôden took this story and published as “Honchô suibodai zenden” in 1809, which inspired Ukiyo-e artists as interesting subject matter. Here the Hell Courtesan with the hairstyle of the time sits in front of a screen. The screen has a drawing in gold against a blue background, the color combination seen in a sutra. We see seated Kannon on the cloud in the heaven, on earth is a large temple complex. “Jigoku dayû” at the bottom.


Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition
Dimensions: ôban diptych
Publisher: Fukuda Kumajiro (printed in the center of three rectangulars on the right outside the picture)
Literature: Exhibition catalogue: Prints of Kiyochika, Goyô, Shinsui, Seibu, 1976. Ill.30.
Signature: Kobayashi Kiyochika hitsu (writing in cursive style on the water in the right bottom corner; his name printed at the bottom ractangular of three at right.