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Children Blowing up the Belly of Hotei and Painting It Like a Candy from the series Sketches by Yoshitoshi

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Children Blowing up the Belly of Hotei

and Painting It Like a Candy from the series 

Sketches by Yoshitoshi

by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1882

Raikō (Yorimitsu) Enters the Treasure Mountain from the series Sketches by Yoshitoshi

IHL Cat. #1521

About This Print

In this print a raucous group of children are painting the belly of Hotei, the god of happiness. It is one of forty prints (chūban size) which make up the series Sketchs by Yoshitoshi (Yoshitoshi ryakuga). The series consists of forty humorous subjects originally printed in pairs on an ōban sheet as shown below.  

Lea Baten in Playthings and Pastimes in Japanese Prints provides us with the following wonderful description of this print:1

[C]hildren painting Hotei’s belly to look like a giant mochi cake.  Hotei, one of the seven gods of good luck, is the Japanese god of happiness, for in his huge sack he carries toys and treasures for the flocks of children who swarm around him everywhere.  He is very tolerant and allows the boisterous bevy many liberties, while pondering sleepily and not too seriously on the deterioration of today’s morals.  Here, after having received paint and paintbrush, a mischievous youngster is trying out his artistic talents on Hotei’s immense hairy stomach to the joy of the others who are accompanying his efforts with jumping, laughter, and brandishing toys.  A plum blossom and a pine needle adorn the patient Hotei’s grotesque belly, which is being blown up through a natural channel, to put it euphemistically, by a daring juvenile delinquent with a long bamboo pipe.

The Uncut Oban-size Sheet

曽呂理太閤之面を嚊/漢子以布袋腹擬吃飴
Sorori Shinzaemon and HideyoshiChildren Blowing up the Belly of Hotei and Painting It Like a Candy

1 Playthings and Pastimes in Japanese Prints, Lea Baten, Weatherhill, 1995, p. 110-112.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1521
 Title Children Blowing up the Belly of Hotei and Painting It Like a Candy
 漢子以布袋腹擬吃飴
 Series Sketches by Yoshitoshi (also seen translated as "Abbreviated Sketches by Yoshitoshi" and "Quick Drawings by Yoshitoshi")
 芳年略画 Yoshitoshi Ryakuga
[The series title sometimes appears, as seen left, stamped on the top print of the print pair.  When it does appear, the series title is not part of the block and it is unknown if it was added by the publisher.
 Artist 
 Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
 Signature 
芳年戯画 with 芳年 seal
Yoshitoshi giga with Yoshitoshi seal
 Seal 芳年 Yoshitoshi as shown above
 Date May 1882
 Publisher Funazu Chūjirō [Marks. pub. ref. 260]
 Carver 
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - vertical center fold with paper remnants verso; minor soiling
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Miscellaneous Keyes 446-18
 Format horizontal chūban (originally issued as a pair on an ōban sheet as shown above)
 H x W Paper 7 x 9 3/16 in. (17.8 x 23.3 cm)
 H x W Image
 same as paper size
 Collections This Print National Diet Library info:ndljp/pid/1312932; Los Angeles County Museum of Art M.84.31.350
 Reference Literature


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