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Yokai

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Gyokuen, Japanese, (active 1830–1860)
One Hundred Views of Kyoto: Mt. Shimei, c. 1860s
Ink on paper
9 13/16 in. x 7 1/8 in. (24.89 cm x 18.03 cm)


Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Creation Place: Asia, Japan
Credit Line: Purchase by the Aoki Endowment for Japanese Arts and Cultures
Accession Number: 2010.1.21


Commentary
The series One Hundred Views of Kyoto (Miyako Hyakkei) features scenes of Kyoto, the imperial capital (Japanese: miyako) by a variety of different artists. This image by an artist called Gyokuen features Shimeigatake, one of the peaks of Mount Hiei to the northeast of Kyoto and at the edge of Lake Biwa. Above the natural landscape, Gyokuen depicts an eagle carrying three tengu, mythical beings that are part human, part bird, with wings and a beak. In some depictions, their beaks are replaced by a long nose. These creatures are associated with mountains and forests and were originally considered demonic and disruptive so have been classified as yōkai. However, over the centuries, their image has softened and they are viewed as protective kami of the mountains and forests.

- Meher McArthur, January 7, 2021

Marks
Signed: "Gyokuen"

Object Description
Vertical color woodblock print from the series "Miyako Hyakkei" (One Hundred Views of Kyoto), showing Mt. Shimei near Mt. Hiei. An eagle in flight dominates the foreground, its grasps three small eagle-like demons in its talons.

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