Kamada Matahachi, a Man of Unmatched Power from Matsuzaka, Ise, Kills a Big Cat from the Mountains of Suzaka (Kamada Matahachi Seishū Matsuzaka no hito musō kyōryoku nari dōkoku Suzuka no sanchū nite toshifuru daineko wo korosu)

Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi 歌川国芳 (1798-1861)
Publisher: Tsutaya Kichizō 蔦屋吉蔵
Historical period(s)
Edo period, ca. 1840
Woodblock print; ink, color and embossing on paper
H x W (overall): 38 x 26 cm (14 15/16 x 10 1/4 in)
Credit Line
The Anne van Biema Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Woodblock print

Anne van Biema collection, cat, Edo period (1615 - 1868), hero, Japan, sword, ukiyo-e, warrior, WWII-era provenance
Provenance research underway.

Like foxes and badgers, cats possessing supernatural powers are relatively common in Japanese folktales and legends. Kuniyoshi's print depicts the warrior Kamada Matahachi killing a monstrous cat in the mountains of Seishv (present-day Ise). At the time of this print's publication around 1840, tales of cat sorcery were in vogue. Takizawa Bakin's lively narrative, The Story of the Eight Dogs of the Satomi Clan (Nanso Satomi hakkenden), published serially between 1814 and 1847, includes an episode in which a hero vanquishes a huge cat witch. Kuniyoshi was fond of cats, which often appear in his observant, sympathetic, and humorous prints, and at times in anthropomorphic guises as courtesans or actors.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 78, pp. 210-211.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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