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Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892
One Hundred Aspects of the Moon: no. 62, Moon of Enlightenment
(Tsuki hyakushi: godo no tsuki)

signed Yoshitoshi with artist's seal Taiso, engraver's mark Enkatsu, and published by Akiyama Buemon, ca. 1888
oban tate-e 13 7/8 by 9 1/2 in., 35.2 by 24.1 cm
Yoshitoshi depicts Hotei, the god of happiness and good fortune, leaning against his linen bag, fabled to be full of treasures. The figure of Hotei pointing at the moon was a favorite subject for Zen painters, as it represents both a joyful freedom from the burdens of everyday life and an invitation to seek further enlightenment. The 17th century monk Gesshu Soko (1618-1696) reflects "a finger points at the moon but the finger is not itself the moon / if you want to know what is in his mind, ask the moon in the sky." The print's comic style reflects its subject's merriness: his ample stomach and long earlobes indicate comfort, wisdom, and immortality, while the composition's lack of background imagery draws Hotei's relationship with the moon into sharp focus.
John Stevenson, Yoshitoshi's One Hundred Aspects of the Moon, 2001, cat. no. 62
price: $ 800