Thursday, July 09, 2009

Male narcissism

No, the title of this blog entry isn't a redundancy. These prints go rather beyond that, I'd say. (And they are rather amusing, particularly if you're fond of Japanese prints, as I am.)

In the mid-1840s, ukiyo-e master Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) created a number of woodblock prints showing legendary tanuki (raccoon dogs) using their humorously large scrota in creative ways.

This series of comic prints alludes to the supposed ability of raccoon dogs to voluntarily enlarge their scrotums. It is listed as 209 in Kuniyoshi by Basil William Robinson (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1961). Robinson translated tanuki as ‘badgers’, but ‘raccoon dogs’ seems to be more correct. The images are each about 7 by 10 inches (18 by 25 centimeters), a size known as chûban. Two images were printed on a sheet of paper about 14 by 10 inches (36 by 25 centimeters), a size known as ôban.

Better copies of the prints can be found here and here.


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