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
The demon Ibaraki, having disguised itself as the aunt of warrior Minamoto no Yorimitsu to gain access to its severed limb, is shown is in the midst of transforming back into demon form.
Even before the arrival of US ships demanding trade, Japan’s military government was experiencing economic challenges. This preparatory drawing is for a wooden plaque to be offered to a shrine, beseeching divine intervention in business affairs. Commissioned by a wholesalers’ union, it shows the demon Ibaraki-dōji reclaiming his arm from a warrior who, according to legend, had cut it off. The repossession of the arm is a metaphor for the union’s desire for the restoration of rights to sell sugar, which had been rescinded by the government as part of a misguided effort to stabilize the economy.
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