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Yamauba watching playing Kintaro

Kitagawa Utamaro • Print, 36.2×23.1 cm
Digital copy: 357.9 kB
1027 × 1600 px • JPEG
23.1 × 36.2 cm • 112 dpi
17.4 × 27.1 cm • 150 dpi
8.7 × 13.5 cm • 300 dpi
Digital copy is a high resolution file, downloaded by the artist or artist's representative. The price also includes the right for a single reproduction of the artwork in digital or printed form.
About the artwork
Art form: Print
Subject and objects: Genre scene
Technique: Engraving
Size: 36.2×23.1 cm
Artwork in selections: 3 selections
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Description of the artwork «Yamauba watching playing Kintaro»

In addition to the famous Kabuki actors and famous beauties from cheerful quarters, frequent heroes Japanese woodblock prints, Ukiyo-e became mythological characters. Almost every one of the acknowledged masters of the woodcut a series about creepy monsters or ghosts. Was no exception and Kitagawa Utamaro.

Do not go, children in Japan walk

Although his cycle, depicting scenes from the life of the mountain witch Yamauba and her son Kintaro, still goes beyond tradition. Perhaps Utamaro was so treasured a woman's beauty that he simply has not raised a hand to draw the shape Ameobi so ugly, how he is described in legends.

One of its most distinctive traits was considered a huge, ear to ear, mouth and unkempt, huddled in clumps of gray hair. The most that decided the artist is to give the Japanese equivalent of Baba Yaga black teeth and long, never styled hair.

Information about the origin of Yamauba and her son, are very different. According to one version, she was an ordinary woman and lived in the village. And when it is famine, her offspring, to save food, took the mother into the deep forest and left him there.

Yamauba went to the mountains and settled in one of the caves. To survive, she began to watch for lonely travelers and eat them. The types of manifestations of her bloodlust describe a variety. She would invite strangers to his house supposedly for the night and then kills you in a dream axe that keeps specially for these occasions. Then with the help of magic turned his hair into snakes that strangle the victims and sent the witch right in the mouth. It depicts Ivan Susanin leads lost travelers in the forests until, until they are exhausted and become easy prey.

And another legend says that Yamauba was originally a kind spirit of the forest, who helped the people and even gifts to them. But when death began to become impudent and finally sat down on the neck, she stopped to coddle them and gradually became an evil witch. Now Mauboy in Japanese families frighten naughty children, and promised that if they go for a walk far from home alone, she'd catch them and eat.

Golden boy

But there are other legends that describe Yamauba not as a bloodthirsty woman, and as a loving mother, who raised the legendary folk hero Kintaro. His name translates from Japanese as "Golden boy", so the body of the child on the prints Utamaro such a strange color.

Although the origin of Kintaro is also not so simple. His mother wrote the Princess Aegir, and the founding fathers of the famous samurai Raiko. In that version, where his mother still was a mountain witch, he grew up on the slopes of mount Ashigara and his friends are wild animals, whose language he could understand. The boy had gigantic stature and great strength (that's why the print of Kitagawa Utamaro depicts an unusually strong toddler).

When Kintaro walked through the woods and one day met a traveler who, impressed by his strength, invites you to the service of samurai by Prince Sakata. Prince anoint him the new name Sakata-no-Kintoki under which he became famous and made a lot of feats.

It is believed that the Golden boy had a real prototype – a samurai who lived in the 956 – 1012 years and died of fever during the military campaign against the pirates from the island of Kyushu.

At the Boston Museum of fine arts houses the largest collection of woodblock prints of Kitagawa Utamaro, and among them a few surviving leaves from a series of Yamauba and her son Kintaro (1, 2, 3). The prints depict a very touching domestic scenes from their lives, where the mountain witch appears caring and even affectionate, and Kintaro – the funny, chubby kid who is also sometimes scared and looking for protection, clinging to the breast of its mother.

Yamauba caring for him like a good mother feeds, cleans ears and even the hair (1, 2, 3). Looking at their family reunion, don't even believe in the appearance of the delicate mother hides a vicious monster, and crying, like all children, during the haircut Kintaro – the future athlete who wins the battle of the forest bear.

Author: Natalia Azarenka