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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: From the series (Buyû mitate jûnishi) 「武勇見立十二支」Bravery Matched with the Twelve (Zodiac) Signs: Monkey and Sun Wukong 「孫悟空 申」

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Dates: circa 1840,created
Dimensions: 4.13 in,11.15 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Related links: Freer & Sackler Gallery; MFA Boston; Set of 12 at MFA;

Physical description: The zodiac sign of the monkey is represented by the Chinese monkey king Sun Wukong (Japanese, Son Gokv), one of the three followers of the Buddhist monk Yuan Zhuang in the Chinese novel, Journey to the West or Monkey (Chinese, Xiyou ji; Japanese, Saiyvki). The monk and his companions traveled to India in 629 to collect and study the sacred texts of Buddhism. Here the monkey transforms his fur into an army to battle his enemy the pig, who later becomes his closest companion on the pilgrimage. This print is from the first edition of the series.

This example was carved and printed ca 2017 by master carver, Kitamura Shoichi. The fine printing combines graded color in a dynamic, swirling composition of exceptional artistry.