Bravery Matched with the Twelve (Zodiac) Signs: Dragon and Susano’o no Mikoto

Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi 歌川国芳 (1797-1861)
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, dragon, Eastern zodiac, Edo period (1615 - 1868), hero, Japan, portrait, ukiyo-e, wave, WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable

Susano'o no Mikoto, the impetuous brother of the sun goddess, stares into the waves where a dragon lurks. This scene recalls an eight-headed, eight-tailed serpent that Susano'o no Mikoto killed. From its tail he retrieved the sword that became one of the regalia of the Japanese imperial lineage. The color contrasts and the fine, graded printing of the stylized waves make this an arresting image of this hero from Japanese national mythology.

Published References
  • Robert T. Singer. The Life of Animals in Japanese Art. Exh. cat. Princeton, New Jersey. p 49, fig 10E.
  • Ann Yonemura, with contributions by et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 84, pp. 214-5, 224-25.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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