Height: 560.000 mm
Width: 405.000 mm
Asia JA 1906.12-20.01272
Utagawa Kuniyoshi, The Wrestler Roshi Ensei, a colour woodblock print
Edo period, about AD 1827-30
This print, by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), is one of a series depicting 108 heroes of the Chinese adventure story Shuihu zhuan ('The Water Margin'), which was sensationally popular in a translation that appeared in Japan in the early decades of the nineteenth century. The wrestler's snow-white body was decorated at an early age by a master tattoo artist with an elaborate all-body design of peonies and Chinese shishi (leonine creatures).
Kuniyoshi's prints frequently feature tattoos, and many of his designs have entered the mainstream of modern tattooing.
J.C.H. King (ed.), Human image (London, The British Museum Press, 2000)