Fudo Myoo and Yuten shonin
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Fudo Myoo and Yuten shonin, 1885
Ink on Paper
13 15/16 in. x 28 1/16 in. (354.01 mm x 712.79 mm)
Triptych; left and middle panels are cojoined; right panel is loose. Descriptive label on verso of mat.
On mat, in pencil: Yoshitoshi, Marer 360. Signed: Yoshitoshi. Artist's seal: Taiso. Carver: Enkatsu to.
Colored ink woodblock on paper; oban; triptych.
Meiji period Japanese color woodblock print with an image of a dark demon threatening a person with a sword. Triptych.
In 1656, a young novice at Zojoji Temple of the Jodo sect was praying one night, chanting a sutra, before the image of the god Fudo. Suddenly the statue came to life, seized him by the arm, and raised his sword as if to slay him. The boy fainted. When he revived, the statue was motionless, but beside him on the ground lay a replica of the god's sword. He went to his superior to ask what this terrifying event might mean. His superior told him that he had been chosen for great work and asked him to leave the sword with him and to forget what had happened until such time as he needed to remember. The novice was given the name Yuten, and when he grew older he was recognized by the shogun and traveled throughout the country establishing temples. Eventually he became abbot of Zojoji Temple and then retired to a country village near Edo where he lived quietly until his death in 1718. The childhood incident is described in a biography of Yuten published in 1808. A six-volume popular illustrated biography published in 1803 and 1804 may have contained an illustration which inspired Yoshitoshi's print.
Yuten was born in 1637, so he would have been nineteen at the time of the incident; in Yoshitoshi's print the boy is far younger. It is interesting that Yoshitoshi, who was precocious as a child, should have been so sympathetic to children. The figures to the right and left are acolytes of the god. This is one of the few individual prints that Yoshitoshi did not give a title.
(Ref. Keyes, Roger, and George Kuwayama, "The Bizarre Imagery of Yoshitoshi: The Herbert R. Cole Collection," p.59)
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