Kishi Bunsho / Monkey trainer with a monkey at the New Year / Edo period, ca. 1780sKishi Bunsho
Monkey trainer with a monkey at the New Year
Edo period, ca. 1780s

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Creator Name: Kishi Bunsho
Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Japanese
Creator Role: Artist
Creator Dates/Places: Japanese; 1754-1796 Asia,East Asia,Japan
Creator Active Place: Asia,East Asia,Japan
Creator Name-CRT: Kishi Bunsho
Title: Monkey trainer with a monkey at the New Year
Title Type: preferred
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1780
Creation End Date: 1780
Creation Date: Edo period, ca. 1780s
Creation Place: Asia,East Asia,Japan
Object Type: Prints
Classification Term: Woodblock
Materials and Techniques: Woodblock print.
Dimensions: Hosoban; 29.3 x 14.9 cm11 5/8" x 7 5/8"
Inscriptions: SIGNATURE Kishi Bunsho ga
AMICA Contributor: The Art Institute of Chicago
Owner Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
ID Number: 1968.329
Credit Line: The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harold G. Henderson
Subject Description: Printed entirely in shades of red ink, this print would have been purchased as a household talisman against smallpox. The type was known as red picture (aka-e), or smallpox picture (hoso-e). It may well have been sold door-to-door at the New Year holiday by the very monkey trainer shown in the print. The monkey is dressed for the auspicious New Year Sambaso dance and carries a drum, and his trainer wears a similarly festive costume and carries a branch of bamboo to decorate a gateway. Hanging from the fan he waves is a long, narrow poem card (tanzaku) inscribed with a surprisingly lighthearted poem linking the dancing monkey, smallpox lesions, and red and white plum blossoms, which bloom about New Year:Ume no hanakazoete mirebayotsu itsutsuakaku shirokiwasaru no manzaiFlowers of the plum-Let's count them and see:Four, five [smallpox],Red and white likeThe costume of the dancing monkey!The short poem above the figures (probably by Bunsho) is more of a straightforward plea:Waga yado wahoso karushiume no hanaIn our homeMay the smallpox be light:Flower of the plum!It is followed by yet another popular incantation against sickness: 'Sasara sampachi!' A smallpox epidemic is known to have hit Edo in the year 1782, so the print may have been issued at the New Year of 1782 or 1783.1 The block cutting and printing are fairly crude, as befits a piece of ephemera. ('The Actor's Image', 1994)
AMICA ID: AIC_.1968.329
AMICA Library Year: 1999
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Art Institute of Chicago, 1999

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