Shoki (Zhong Kui) Vanquishing a Demon

Maker(s)
Artist: Katsukawa Shunshō 勝川春章 (1726-1792)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, early 1770s
Medium
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
Dimensions
H x W (overall): 68.2 x 12.3 cm (26 7/8 x 4 13/16 in)
Geography
Japan
Credit Line
The Anne van Biema Collection
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S2004.3.323
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Print
Type

Woodblock print

Keywords
Anne van Biema collection, Buddhism, demon, Edo period (1615 - 1868), hashira-e, Japan, ukiyo-e, WWII-era provenance, Zhong Kui
Provenance
Provenance research underway.
Label

The exorcist Shoki (Chinese, Zhong Kui) was a popular deity in China from the middle of the Tang dynasty (618-906), and was known in Japan from the Kamakura period (1185-1333). In Chinese legend, he first appeared to the emperor Xuanzong (713-756), who dreamt that a demon that was in the palace grounds was dispelled by a larger demon who wore a hat, robe, belt, and boots. The large demon, Zhong Kui, revealed that he had been a scholar who had committed suicide after failing the imperial examinations a century earlier. In gratitude to an earlier emperor, Zhong Kui had vowed to rid the world of demons. Images of Shoki were widely used during the Edo period. Displayed at the end of the year or for the Boys' Festival on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, Shoki was believed to ward off evil. Images painted entirely red were hung to avert epidemics, especially of smallpox. Here the artist Shunsho has depicted Shoki in the narrow format of a pillar print (hashira-e) that would have substituted for a painting in modest households.

Published References
  • Ann Yonemura, et al. Masterful Illusions: Japanese Prints from the Anne van Biema Collection. Seattle and Washington. cat. 101, pp. 258-259.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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