Momotaro and Kaidomaru Wrestling


This nishiki-e (multicolored woodblock print) is by Utagawa Kunisada I, also called Toyokuni III and other names, who lived circa 1786–1864 and was a leading artist of ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world). He was famous for his prints of Kabuki actors, beautiful women, and sumo (Japanese traditional wrestling). A favorite pictorial joke in the Edo period (1600–1867) was the depiction of sumo performed by unusual participants. In this print Kunisada shows the meeting of the two strong boys of Japanese folktales, Momotarō and Kintarō. Momotarō, born from a giant peach, defeated ogres with the help of his trusty dog, monkey, and pheasant. Kintarō (here called Kaidōmaru), grew up on a mountain with animals for his friends. In this match, Momotarō's pheasant appears as the gyōji (referee), while Kintarō's bear acts the yobidashi (announcer). Such nishiki-e served the function of increasing the popularity of sumo. The National Diet Library, which holds this work, has more than 100 of Kunisada’s sumo prints. From the name and the seal, this work can be dated 1843–44.

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Yamaguchiya Tobei, Edo


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Physical Description

Set of three : woodblock prints, color ; 37 × 25.5 centimeters

Last updated: November 7, 2011