Ox (Ushi): Kidōmaru, from the series Bravery Matched with the Twelve Animals of the Zodiac (Buyū mitate jūnishi)

Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi 歌川国芳 (1798-1861)
Publisher: Minatoya Kohei (Kinsendō) 湊屋小兵衛 ((active c. 1841–1862))
Historical period(s)
Edo period, ca. 1840
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 36.6 x 12.5 cm (14 7/16 x 4 15/16 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, Eastern zodiac, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, ox, ukiyo-e, warrior, WWII-era provenance
Provenance research underway.

The bandit Kidomaru, a former warrior, lies in wait to confront Minamoto no Yorimitsu (948-1021), the warrior hero whom he had previously refused to serve. Having turned to serving villains, such as the demon Shuten Doji, who lived in the mountains and devoured young noble women who had been kidnapped from Kyoto, Kidomaru became a bandit who ambushed his victims by disguising himself in animal skins. In this print Kidomaru uses an ox skin as his disguise. His demoniacal features are reflected in red from the water as he hides on the moor, Ichiharano. The beauty of the landscape, with the white form of the full moon and the grasses represented by unprinted paper, contributes to the poignancy of the lonely villain who does not realize that he will soon die in the combat he eagerly awaits.

Published References
  • Robert T. Singer. The Life of Animals in Japanese Art. Exh. cat. Princeton, New Jersey. p 48, fig 10B.
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 81, pp. 214-5, 218-19.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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