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Johnson Collection of Japanese Prints

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Katsushika Hokusai, Japanese, (1760–1849)
Ten Thousand Sketches by Hokusai: Ehon (book), volume XII, 1850
Ink on Paper
9 in. x 6 1/4 in. (22.86 cm x 15.88 cm)

Object Type: Book
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Creation Place: Asia, Japan
Credit Line: Gift of the Johnson Family Trust
Accession Number: 2003.6.95

Kappa are water spirits believed to inhabit rivers and lakes. In folklore, they are described as being the size of a human child, with green scaly skin, webbed feet and hands and a circular depression on the top of their heads that holds water. Since water is the source of their power, spilling it can render them immobile or even kill them. Though mostly mischievous, kappa can also be dangerous, especially to cows and horses, which they drag into the water, drown and eat. Their favorite food is cucumber, so farmers leave them offerings of cucumbers; in return, the kappa irrigate their crops. However, kappa also enjoy eating human innards, and are said to occasionally attack humans playing, swimming or defecating in the river, as the man seems to be doing, oblivious of the kappa who is watching him with interest.

- Meher McArthur, January 7, 2021


A gift of 16 volumes - 15 volumes of the Manga and an additional copy of Volume X.

No marks.

Black, blue and orange ink woodblock prints on paper, bound as an ehon (book).

Object Description
Volume XIII from Hokusai's set of Manga, intended as primers for aspiring artists. In this series of 15 volumes, designed from around 1813 through his final years, Hokusai produced a veritable pictorial encyclopedia of Far Eastern life and legend. The series was originally intended as a set of copybooks for art students but soon made the artist's name known throughout Japan and, eventually, throughout the world. Volume XIII includes 55 illustrations with black, blue and orange inks. The images depict a dragon, gods, a dragon at night, domestic scenes, landscapes (rural, mountain, forest, and ocean), workers, travelers, plants and flowers, fish, elephants, a tiger under a waterfall, a camel, and celestial bodies. Page 1 - 3 are text. 58 pages. Orange binding.

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