Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国)

Print: The Mask of Okame (おかめ)

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Dates: circa 1838,created
Dimensions: 10.0 in,14.5 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Signed: ōju Kōchōrō Kunisada ga
Publisher: Iseya Sanjirō
(Marks 153 - seal 22-095)
Censor's seal: kiwame

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Physical description:

"Otafuku is considered to be a reincarnation of the Shinto deity Uzume Mikoto, who helped to lure the sun goddess, Amaterasu, out of a cave during a dramatic eclipse sequence, as revealed in the Nihongi. In Tokyo, people carried pictures of Otafuku around on bamboo rakes during the festival of Tori no Machi at the three shrines called O Tori Jinja during the days of the Cock in the eleventh month. During the festival, people bought ornamental rakes and used Shinto symbols to attract good luck for the coming year. On these days the back gate of the Yoshiwara pleasure district would be thrown open." Quoted from: The Sound of One Hand: Paintings and Calligraphy by Zen Master Hakuin, fn. 59, p. 266.


"Oto, or Otafuku, is a modification of Okame [the figure who lured Amaterasu out of the cave]... A character found in Kyōgen after the fifteenth century. Otafuku is a term, with a vulgar connotation, usually applied jokingly to 'big' women. Kyōgen masks tend to emphasize one particular aspect of facial characteristics, and in this case the exaggeration of the cheeks and mouth results in a grotesque parody of female beauty."

Quoted from: Netsuke: Masterpieces from the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Barbra Teri Okada, p. 70.