Kawanabe Kyosai: Humorous Shunga Picture Calendar with Erotic Scenes (Sold)

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Artist: Kawanabe Kyōsai 河鍋 暁斎
Title: Humorous Shunga Picture Calendar with Erotic Scenes

Picture Calendar with Erotic Scenes of the Twelve Months. Kyosai was in a league of his own when it came to imagination and humor, and his shunga are perhaps his best demonstration of the combination of these. A complete set that was luxuriously printed with areas of gauffrage and metallic pigments, with detail that feels similar to surimono. What follows are brief descriptions of each month:

The image for January shows a lion dancer (a street entertainer for the New Year) in congress with a woman in the foreground as an older man has sex with a younger man in the background. 

February, the second month, was the Festival of Fushimi Inari Taisha “Hatsu’uma matsuri”; at this festival people celebrate serving abura’age to the messenger of Inari, a white kitsune fox. Here we see a young man about to have sex with a woman at left. She lifts up one leg that has a fox mask attached to the foot to foot to scare away an older, horny shrine attendant, who falls back, frightened away.

The scene for the third month shows a family digging clams at the seashore. We see a young couple discreetly embracing at left, while at right an older couple copulates as the woman digs for clams in the sand. A young boy seems to be playing with a clamshell, hopefully in a way that will not cause lasting damage if the clam is still alive and it snaps its shell shut.

The fourth month is the hana matsuri festival, which celebrated the birth of the Buddha Shakyamuni. The scene seems to be in a temple and involving a naughty monk who is having sex with a nearly naked woman. One of the deities, perhaps one from a statue come to life, is literally pouring cold water on them.

The fifth month is the month of the Boy’s Festival, generally represented by images of the strong Shoki, the Demon Queller. Here a woman must fend off the advances of a very aroused Shoki, using her pillow to beat him away.  We see banners for Boy’s Day, with Shoki’s silhouette, hanging in the background, but he has come very much to life. 

For the sixth month it looks as though Raijin, the god of thunder, has been summoned with the grey clouds emanating  from what looks like an incense burner. He is also highly aroused at the sight of a couple making love and his phallus seems to emanate a magical liquid. In the background we see a mosquito net, two pillows and a summer fan.

The seventh month is the month of the Star Festival, Tanabata. We see what look to be tiny emissaries of the celestial gods (or perhaps the celestial lovers themselves, Orihime and Hikoboshi) looking very approvingly at a closeup of sexual intercourse.

The eighth month shows an older couple viewing a full moon through a window. The man’s erection is so large that the woman can serve a cup of sake atop it.

The ninth month shows a couple beneath a blanket, in the background a scene of Izayoi, or viewing of the autumn moon on the sixteenth night of this month, when the moon was thought to be the most beautiful full moon of the entire year.

The tenth month shows one of the Seven Lucky Gods, Ebisu, about to make love to a woman. His characteristic emblem, a sea bream, is flying up in the air. Ebisu’s festival is celebrated on the twentieth day of the tenth month.

Two more characters from Japanese mythology are about to engage in some happy sex.

The imagery for the twelfth month evades description, although we see a tiny man with a loose loincloth who must be very busy at the year-end delivering packages. 

Date: 1867
Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition.
Dimensions: each koban, approximately 9.2 x 12.4 cm each
Signature: Kyô-jin 狂人

LiteratureJapanese Erotic Fantasies, 2005, number 90; This is Kyosai!, 2017, number 182; Sex and Laughter with Kyosai, pages 118-125.