Washing Hands as a Mitare of Gongsun Sheng, c. 1828

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This print is from the series picturing the heroes of the Chinese epic "Water Margin" as beautiful women. Following the success of Kuniyoshi's musha-e series showing the actual heroes of the novel, a poetry circle called Hisakataya commissioned the artist to design this series as a means of publishing poems by its member. Picturing the warriors of ancient China as contemporary women may have not been easy, but, Kuniyoshi discovered many creative ways to suggest the warriors. Here, he depicts a woman drying her hands by a water basin of the kind commonly placed near the entrance to shrine for ritual purification. Reflected in the water of the basin is the image of the dragon painted on the ceiling over the basin. Thus Kuniyoshi associates her with Gongsun Sheng, a hero in the novel, whose nickname is Dragon in the Clouds.

Washing Hands as a Mitare of Gongsun Sheng
Artist Life
1798 - 1861
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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