Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, Jigoku-dayu, Hell Courtesan, New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts

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Original Japanese woodblock print. 

Artist: Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (1839-1892)
Title: 12. The Enlightenment of Jigoku-dayu
Series: New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts
Publisher: Sasaki Toyokichi
Date: 1889


A former courtesan, the lady portrayed in this print is known to have eventually converted to a religious life. Dayu is a term of respect for the highest rank of courtesan, while jigoku (hell) is the lowest form of an unlicensed person working in the pleasure quarters. Her robe is appropriately decorated with scenes of torture of the Buddhist Hell. Kannon, the goddess of mercy, appears on the front of her robe design.


The initial print design shows skeletons on a procession in the background, however, this detail is missing in this print. Faced with the vision of the impermanence of life, Jigoku-dayu must have acknowledged her errors in this way. Yoshitoshi himself is known to have had an affair with a beautiful courtesan and her image inspired several of his designs, including this one.

More Information
Artist Name Yoshitoshi Tsukioka
Title The Enlightenment of Jigoku-dayu
Subject Beauty & Female, Spirits & Religion
Condition Report Horizontal half fold mark in the middle. Faint creases on the bottom edge and along the left-hand side edge. Brown smudges on the right. Faint spot.
Series New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts
Publisher Sasaki Toyokichi