Shoki and Demon

Maker(s)
Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi 歌川国芳 (1797-1861)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, ca. 1845
Medium
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
Dimensions
H x W (overall): 36.6 x 24.9 cm (14 7/16 x 9 13/16 in)
Geography
Japan
Credit Line
The Anne van Biema Collection
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S2004.3.182
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Print
Type

Woodblock print

Keywords
Anne van Biema collection, demon, Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, oban, ukiyo-e, WWII-era provenance, Zhong Kui
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Label

Shoki (Chinese, Zhong Kui), a great exorcist, was a popular deity in China from the middle of the Tang dynasty (618-906), and was known in Japan from the Kamakura period. He is said to have appeared in a dream to the ailing Chinese emperor Xuanzong (713-756), to whom he explained that he was a scholar who had committed suicide a century earlier for failing the imperial examinations, but out of gratitude for an honorable burial granted by an earlier emperor, he had vowed to rid the world of mischievous demons. The emperor, who recovered immediately from his illness, ordered a court painter to paint Zhong Kui just as he appeared in the dream. In Edo period Japan, images of Shoki were hung in homes for the Boys' Festival on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month; some were painted red as talismans against smallpox. In Kuniyoshi's striking image, Shoki, who grasps his sword as a small demon flees behind him, is depicted in a dynamic graphic style that resembles the brushwork of ink painting.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, with contributions by et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 102, pp. 258, 260.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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