Kuniyoshi: Susano-o-no-Mikoto and Dragon 辰 (Sold)

  • Sold.

Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1851)
Title: Susano-o-no-Mikoto and Dragon
Series:  Brave Warriors for the Chinese Twelve Animal Zodiac (Buyu mitate junishi) 武勇見立十二支
Date: c. 1840s

Susano-o-no-Mikoto 素盞雄尊 stands on a rock with a drawn sword, watching a dragon beneath the waves. Susano-o was the troublesome younger brother of Amaterasu, the Goddess of the Sun and divine originator of the Japanese imperial line. One of Susano-o’s most famous earthly deeds was to slay the terrible dragon Yamata no Orochi. After slaying the monstrous serpent he discovered in its tail the sword Ame-no-Murakamo-no-Tsurugi (”Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven”), which he presented to Amaterasu as a gift. This sword later became one of the three Imperial Regalia of Japan. The ten-span sword that Susano-o used to slay the dragon is said to have been enshrined in the Isonokami Shrine in Nara Prefecture. Kuniyoshi has portrayed him here in a rather peaceful, calm-before-the-storm moment, perhaps sizing up his foe. The dragon is seen beneath the waves with the large flame emanating from him that indicates a supernatural being. The dragon is one of the most powerful of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, and this may be considered the strongest design in this series.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition. Untrimmed and unbacked.
Publisher:  Minatoya Kohei (Kinseido)
Literature: Robinson 1982, S17 no. 5; Suzuki 1992, no. 113; this print is from a series of male heroes matched to the animals of the zodiac. See British Museum.
Signature: Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga
Size: Chu-tanzaku (37.5 x 12.7 cm)