Thirty-Six Beauties, Good and Evil: Tanamo no Mae

Artist: Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900)
Historical period(s)
Meiji era, 1876
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
H x W (overall): 35.3 x 23.5 cm (13 7/8 x 9 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, bijinga, fan, Japan, Meiji era (1868 - 1912), oban, woman, WWII-era provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable

Orange rays radiate from the evil court lady, Tamamo no Mae, as she raises an open fan. This powerful image represents a manifestation in human form of a supernatural, nine-tailed fox that transformed itself repeatedly into beautiful women and enchanted the emperors of India, China, and Japan. According to a Japanese legend set in the Heian period (794-1185), Tamamo no Mae served at the imperial court where she practiced her evil until she was stopped by the power of a Buddhist priest. The light that appeared around her head at night betrayed her supernatural power. Legends of Tamamo no Mae were well known to nineteenth-century Japanese audiences through puppet plays, illustrated novels, and kabuki plays.

Published References
  • At the Museums. vol. XLIX, no. 1, 2003. p. 71.
  • Ann Yonemura, with contributions by et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 100, pp. 256-257.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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