Kuniyoshi Utagawa, Yamauba and Matsui Tamijiro, Kisokaido

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Original Japanese woodblock print.

Artist: Kuniyoshi Utagawa (1798-1861)
Title: 17. Matsuida. Yamauba and Matsui Tamijiro 
Series: The Sixty-nine Post Stations of the Kisokaidō
Publisher: Tsujioka-ya Bunsuke
Date: 1852
Size: 24.9 x 35.6 cm
Condition: Backing. Small hole on top right corner. Blue pigment slightly spotted on the centre.


In Japanese art and literature, place names often have a significant importance and relate to famous stories or events. Kuniyoshi's series 'The Sixty-nine Post Stations of the Kisokaidō' is a clear exercise in this convention, playfully connecting the names of the post stations along the Kisokaidō, a mountainous road from Tokyo to Kyoto, with folkloric, historical and literary tales. For Matsuida post station, Kuniyoshi recounts a story of the samurai Matsui Tamijiro. Unable to cross a river infested with poisonous snakes, Matsui is helped by a yama-uba, a mountain witch. By applying an ointment to him, the snakes are dispersed and Matsui is eventually able to cross over to the opposing bank. Kuniyoshi's interest in European etchings is evident in the yama-uba's pose and attire which bear a distinctively Western touch compared to other contemporary depictions of these hermetic beings.

More Information
Artist Name Kuniyoshi Utagawa
Title Matsuida. Yamauba and Matsui Tamijiro
Subject Samurai & Male, Male & Female, Landscapes
Dimensions 24.9 x 35.6 cm
Series Sixty-nine Post Stations of the Kisokaido Road
Publisher Tsujiokaya Bunsuke