Yoshikazu, Kintaro Wrestling

Utagawa Yoshikazu (active 1850 - 1870) Kintaro Wrestling, 1860. Oban triptych.

What a magnificent print this is. Yoshikazu portrays Kintaro (the Golden Boy) wrestling one of Yorimitsu’s retainers. Kintaro, as with so many Japanese heroes, is the the subject of legend and possibly some fact. Raised by his mother near Mount Kintoki it was said that he was a wild child of superhuman strength - wrestling bears, uprooting trees - and he befriended and spoke to animals especially his friends the monkeys.

Yoshikazu pictures him at the moment he is discovered by the samurai Minamoto no Yorimitsu and is wrestling one of his retainers. Yorimitsu took him on as a retainer, renamed him Kintoki and he was to become the chief among Yorimitsu’s Shitenno or warriors. Kintaro is usually pictured in red, and with his faithful monkeys and axe which is discarded in the foreground of the print. His mother is shown in the left hand panel and Yorimitsu in the right.

Kintaro lives on in modern Japan as a symbol of good fortune for boys. He appears in statues, candy, story books and cartoons. He also features in manga and anime cartoons and is a character  in the popular computer game Mortal Kombat.

This is a really lovely print. The colour is exceptional, fresh and subtle and it is a fine impression with extensive gauffrage (embossing). The condition is very good indeed with only minor thinning in small areas. Overall very fine.

There is another image of Kintaro by Chikanobu here in the exhibition.

Published by Ki-ya Sojiro.