Yoshikatsu: Teaching of Harmonious Unity of Five Body Parts

Utagawa Yoshikatsu

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Artist: Utagawa Yoshikatsu
Title: Teaching of Harmonious Unity of Five Body Parts (gotai wagô shinsai no kyôkun)
Date: 1862/5

A townsman treads on his right foot and bends his left leg. He tucks up his kimono sleeve. From his head four devil-like figures on a cloud come out with the text on the left sheet, whereas another four on the right sheet come out probably from his feet. Yoshikatsu refers the body to the teaching of five moral rules to govern human relations, gorin: lord and vassal, father and son, husband and wife, young and old, and friends. The text roughly says: The face, kao is like -----, the back, senaka is like wife, both hands, ryôte are like brothers, children and vassals are ...... like functions of the hands and feet. The whole body is like relatives. It is not easy to keep them in harmony. Disharmony may occur when the eyes, me arrogantly believe that without me nothing can be seen, the feet, ashi are proud of themselves that without me nothing can be delivered, the hands, te convinced that even daily rice cannot be prepared without me. Therefore everybody squares thier elbows to each other and despised others. Then the text goes on about the nose, hana and the mouth, kuchi. The bellybutton, heso, the text continues, observes and feels from the head to feet, though it is slightly sinking in the belly. It is situated in the center of the belly but it does not disturb any others.....Though it does not have any eyes and ears, mimi it can perceive the whole. It does not have the hands to deal with money. It finds it is unpleasant that our saying has the expression hesokuri, a secret money. The text continues about the feet and then on the second page it caricatures the scene at the pleasure quarters in Kyoto, where the feet and the head get in difficulty. The rest of the text describes how the bellybutton tries to conciliate and bring back the harmony of the body.

Dimensions: Ôban diptych
Publisher: Nôshû-ya Yasubei
Seal: on the left bottom number “15 “ in red
Signature: Isshûsai Yoshikatsu gisha (caricature picture) with his paulownia seal

SKU: MED027


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