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c. 1840

Shibata Zeshin

(Japanese, 1807-1891)

Hanging scroll, ink on paper

Overall: 214.6 x 195.5 cm (84 1/2 x 76 15/16 in.); Mounted: 205.2 x 185.2 cm (80 13/16 x 72 15/16 in.); Painting only: 161 x 172.2 cm (63 3/8 x 67 13/16 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1990.6


In 1840 Shibata Zeshin was commissioned by an association of sugar wholesalers to paint an ema, a votive tablet, to be dedicated to the Shinto shrine Oji Inari in the city of Edo (now Tokyo). This sketch is thought to be a preparatory drawing for the tablet. It depicts the demon Ibaraki, who resided in the Rashomon Gate, the southern gate of Heian-kyo (now Kyoto), rescuing its arm from the warrior Minamoto no Yorimitsu (948-1021). Yorimitsu had ordered it cut off by Watanabe no Tsuna (953-1025). Having disguised itself as Yorimitsu’s aunt to gain access to its severed limb, Ibaraki is in the midst of transforming back into demon form.

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