Kawanabe Kyosai 河鍋 暁斎: Demon Converted to Buddhism 大津絵の鬼の念仏 (Sold)

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Artist: Kawanabe Kyōsai 河鍋 暁斎
Title: Demon Converted to Buddhism 大津絵の鬼の念仏

Otsu-e Figure: Demon Converted to Buddhism (Oni no nenbutsu). Kyosai, specialist in both demons and humor, has combined both here. The oni is dressed in the robes of an itinerant Buddhist monk. He wears a gong on his chest and carries a striker and a Buddhist subscription list (hogacho), and seems to be intoning the name of the Buddha. We see a folded umbrella on his back. He seems to have five fingers but only three clawlike toes. This character was a popular motif found in Otsu-e. Otsu-e are the folk art paintings from Otsu that were sold as souvenirs to travelers on the Tokaido Road, a tradition dating to the 17th century, and this is one of the most famous subjects. It perhaps depicts a sanctimonious hypocrite, one who is religious on the outside, loudly banging the drum of salvation, while being untamed and wild on this inside. Or it could be that even demons are capable of transforming themselves. The MFA example has text in the background and is very damaged, so there must be two versions of this artwork.

Date: ca. 1860s
Condition: Excellent impression and color. Very good condition. Unbacked.
Dimensions: Oban (34.6 x 23.4 cm)
Signed: Oju Seisei Kyosai...

Literature: See MFA, Rits, Art Gallery of New South Wales, CATALOGUE RAISONNÉ Kaikan sanjû shûnen kinen Kawanabe Kyôsai kinen bijutsukan cat. (2008), p. 106, #0829 (without inscription, dated 1864)