Choki Eishosai, Parody of Urashima Taro, Beauty Triptych


Artist: Choki Eishosai [signed Shiko Hyakusen] (act. 1781-1813)
Title: Parody of Urashima Taro
Publisher: Tsutaya Juzaburo
Date: Late 18th/ Early 19th century
Dimensions: (L) 22.5 x 32.6 (C) 22.4 x 32.6 (R) 22.7 x 32.4 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.  

A humourous scene of courtesans enacting the fairy tale Urashima Taro. In the legend, a young man is granted access to the palace court of the Dragon King leagues beneath the sea for saving a turtle. There, he is entertained by Princess Otohime for what he believes to be a few days. At his departure, he receives a farewell gift, a special casket he is told never to open. Upon returning to his village, the young man finds that three hundred years have passed, his perception of time completely altered in the confines of the Dragon Palace. Forgetting the warning, he opens the box and is turned into an old man.


Despite the tragic nature of the tale and the poignancy of the farewell scene, Chōki's treatment is somewhat playful. The legendary characters are not people of yore but courtesans from the Yoshiwara District, with their identities and taste clearly visible. The lady playing Princess Otohime wears a striking kimono decorated with an array of shells and abstract waves. Her obi sash bears embossed seigaiha ripples and a coiling dragon to signify her role. Common throughout Chōki's small oeuvre, elegant details abound in the triptych. The delicate lines of the faces, slightly elongated, look serene against the bolder impressions of the robes, and the loose strands of the young man's hair are effortlessly graceful. The whole drama is framed by rolling waves and coral figures that make this design by Choki particularly original.

Choki Eishosai (1725 - 1795)

Eishosai Choki, also known as Momokawa Choki, was a designer of ukiyo-e style Japanese woodblock prints who was active from about 1786 to 1808. He, along with Utamaro, was a pupil of Toriyama Sekien (1712–1788). Choki is best known for his pictures of beautiful slender women, often with atmospheric backgrounds.

More Information
Print FormatTriptych
ArtistChoki Eishosai (1725 - 1795)
SubjectBeauty & Female, Male & Female, Ghosts & Religion
Size(L) 22.5 x 32.6 (C) 22.4 x 32.6 (R) 22.7 x 32.4 cm
Condition ReportSome wear and discolouration from previous mounting.
publisherTsutaya Juzaburo:1774-1852