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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst


Maker(s):Isoda Koryūsai
Culture:Japanese (1735-ca. 1790)
Title:Child Wrestling with an Octopus
Date Made:ca. 1772
Materials:polychrome woodblock print
Place Made:Edo
Measurements:sheet: 10 1/4 in x 7 7/16 in ; 26.0 cm x 18.9 cm
Accession Number:  AC 1998.60
Credit Line:Gift of William Green

chūban tate-e

Label Text:
The central figure in this design is a wakashū—or young boy under the age of ten, as evidenced by his traditional forelock hairstyle—who grapples with an octopus next to a fishing basket. In Japanese folklore, octopi are sometimes seen retaliating against the fisherman who cut them into pieces, and their strange appearance is meant to suggest an impish, almost human, face. More than any other sea creature the octopus is associated with human emotions, motivations, and activities. In stories, they are also often cast as healers, ghosts, lovers, subjects of ridicule, or vengeful creatures. While Koryūsai is most revered for his erotic scenes of the pleasure quarters in large cities and for his bijinga, or pictures of beautiful women, with this design he establishes a humorous parallel between the boy and the octopus, with their limbs intertwined and the wakashū displaying only eight of his fingers.
- BB., ed., 2015

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