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Party on the daifuku (大福) pleasure boat

Identifier: 1796-97 eishi boat triptych
Description:

A young man is entertained by seven young beauties on the Daifuku Pleasure Boat. The woman seated in the left panel has just caught a small fish.

Bibliography: Ukiyo-e taisei 7 (1931), #562; Brandt, Hosoda Eishi (1977), fig. 213, list no. 276; Ukiyo-e shūka 8 (1980), Eishi list, #71

Boating scenes with elegant courtesans are one of Eishi's favorite motifs. There are a number of other multi-panel prints, mainly triptychs, showing variations on this theme. Kiyonaga created similar scenes of pleasure boats almost ten years earlier. (See the links at the Metropolitan Museum and the British Museum above.)

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Daifuku (大福) means great fortune or good luck. It is also what the first tea of the New Year is called. Perhaps this triptych represents a celebration of that event. However, the inclusion of the irises and the style of clothing would place this setting closer to the fifth month of the year.

A bit of a surprise for us is the use of the sasarindō on the curtains hanging on this boat. That symbol of the combination of the genta flowers and bamboo was a clan crest used by the Minamoto of the Yoritomo branch. What the connection is with a Eishi triptych from ca. 1796 is a puzzle to be resolved sometime.

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