Fukutomi Zoshi

Fukutomi Zoshi

福富草紙

1400s

Handscroll; ink and color on paper

Image: 35.3 x 1028.8 cm (13 7/8 x 405 1/16 in.); Overall: 37 x 1067 cm (14 9/16 x 420 1/16 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1953.358

Description

This handscroll shows the second half of an odd tale in which a ne’er-do-well seeks the path to quick fortune and learns the art of musical flatulence. Prior to a major performance, a mentor (and competitor) advises him to consume morning glory seeds, a laxative. Thus, while performing he fouls himself and ends his days in humiliation.

The audacious nature of this story and its presentation—well-animated figures with dialogue adjacent to the appropriate moments of action—create a primitive graphic novel. Japanese visual humor about farting preceded this story, but the satirical, mean-spirited twist in this tale suggests its intent was not merely to be humorous. The story was likely commissioned by court officials who disapproved of common performers rising to high positions, outflanking what was the accepted social order.

See also
Collection: 
ASIAN - Handscroll
Department: 
Japanese Art
Type of artwork: 
Painting

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