Toki Motosada, Hurling a Demon King to the Ground at Mount Inahana, 1890
Ink on Paper
13 7/8 in. x 9 1/4 in. (352.43 mm x 234.95 mm)
Note: XII (p.42-43) of "Yoshitoshi's Thirty-six Ghosts." Motosada defeats the demon of Mt. Inohana: Toki Motosada, the servant of Gamo Sadahide, is shown wrestling a red skinned demon while the golden image of Buddha looks on from behind. On Motohide's chestplate can be seen the outline of Fudo Myoo, Protector of the Buddhist Faith.
On mat, in pencil: Marer 425, exhib. 11/93, Thirty-six Ghost Stories. Description on verso of mat. Artist's seal: Taiso. Signed: Yoshitoshi ga. Engraver: (unknown). Printed: 15 January 1890.
Colored ink woodblock on paper; oban.
Meiji period Japanese color woodblock print with an image of a man fighting a multitude of monsters and demons.
Gamo Sadahide no shin Toki Motosada Koshu Inohana-yama ni mao o nagetaosu no zu
Where Yoshitoshi found the story for this print is not known. Japanese commentators such as Suzuki Juzo and Kitazano Kokichi, who have researched this series, cannot identify the incident depicted. Nor do Noh and Kabuki plays, or the traditional histories and collections of old stories, contain references to Gamo Sadahide or his retainer, Toki Motosada.
However, Yoshitoshi's series One Hundred Ghost Stories of Japan and China contains a similar design in which a short explanation (using different personal names) is given in a large cartouche. Gamo Ujiyue set up camp near Mount Inohana in Kai Province. One of his officers, Toki Daishiro, heard of peculiar happenings at an old temple in the neighborhood and decided to investigate. Approaching the temple late at night, he peered in and saw strange phantoms cavorting. The largest possessed the form of a nio, a ferocious temple guardian image. Toki grappled with this figure and threw it down, whereupon all the apparitions vanished.
The print here also resembles a design from the Ikkai Zuihitsu, or Free Brushwork by Yoshitoshi, of 1872-3, an ambitious series whose poor reception by the public intensified Yoshitoshi's depression at the time of his first mental breakdown. In the Free Brushwork design the hero Asahina Saburo is shown defeating the King of Hell in a wrestling match. In the design of Otsuji (33), Yoshitoshi takes a situation normally associated with the faithful Hatsuhana and uses the lesser-known story of Tamiya Botaro's nurse to illustrate it. Perhaps Yoshitoshi similarly liked the story of Asahina Saburo but decided to use another story with a related theme for the print reproduced here; the esoteric choice of subject may simply reflect a desire for variety.
The composition of this design is wild but generally successful, except for an awkward foreshortening of Toki's arms. Yoshitoshi's signature and seal appear in a horizontal format; there is not room in the crowded design for them anywhere else. The engraving, especially of breastplate and hair, is a tour-de-force of detail. The breastplate bears a design of Fudo, an avenging Buddhist deity, surrounded by flames and holding a sword and a thong with which to bind the wicked.
In this first edition of the print a metallic oxidizing pigment was used for the demon king's body, giving him a peculiar skin tone, appropriate for an underworld being. Moths flutter and miniature skeletons gesture impotently as the giant demon crashes to the ground.
The halo of the animated Buddha statue echoes the round "Mirror of Past Actions" in the Free Brushwork print; onto this mirror flashed, as on a movie screen, all the good and evil deeds of a man's life when he was judged on entering Hell. The bilious yellow color and the expression of this figure create a debauched, jaundiced impression which is in keeping with other designs where Yoshitoshi parodies a decadent Buddhist establishment. A similar yellow figure also appears in the One Hundred Ghost Stories print.
Stevenson, John. Thirty-Six Ghosts. Hong Kong: Blue Tiger Books, 1992.
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