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Shiki burui juni-ko 色部類十二好 (Twelve Tastes in the Classification of Passion)

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1989,0603,0.1

  • Title (series)

    • Shiki burui juni-ko 色部類十二好 (Twelve Tastes in the Classification of Passion)
  • Description

    Colour woodblock print. Shunga. Man making love to six women, possibly a parody of the Seven Gods of Good Luck.

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1785 (c.)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 395 millimetres (Paper)
    • Width: 527 millimetres (Paper)
    • Height: 510 millimetres (Print in mount)
    • Width: 688 millimetres (Print in mount)
    • Height: 367 millimetres (Picture)
    • Width: 520 millimetres (Picture)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        inscription
      • Inscription Position

        top right
      • Inscription Content

        色部類十二好
      • Inscription Transliteration

        Shikiburuijuni-ko
      • Inscription Comment

        series title
  • Curator's comments

    The essence of erotic 'spring pictures' (shunga) was to create a seemingly unproblematic fantasy world of sexual wish-fulfilment; principally for male viewers, but not exclusively so. The attempt here by one man to satisfy six women may be a comic inversion of the Seven Lucky Gods, only one of whom (Benzaiten) was female. The title suggests there were originally twelve designs in a series but now only this and one other are recorded, both in unique impressions. The manner in which the large double-oban sized sheet was clearly folded into eight suggests the print may originally have been presented in a colour-printed wrapper. (Label copy, TTC, 1999.)

    The only other known design from the series includes a fan with the signature 'Shuncho ga'; see (Kikan) Ukiyo-e 53 (April 1973), p. 5 , with note by Higashioji Taku.A handsome salesman has not even had time to open his chest of wares before he is set upon by a group of six lusty young women. Prone on his back, he is tightly hugged by one woman as they have sex. Other women use his hand and leg to stimulate themselves. This may be a comic inversion of the group of popular deities, the Seven Lucky Gods, or Shichifukujin, one of whom (Benzaiten) was female. The large size of the print, twice what is normal, helps to accommodate the orgy. The way in which the sheet was clearly folded into eight suggests that the print may originally have been presented in a colour-printed wrapper, now lost. As the title implies, twelve designs were originally planned for the series but only two are known. The other shows a young man furtively making love with a young woman in summer, while her female companion dozes beside her: the two women had been reading a song book and Shuncho’s signature is printed on a fan in the picture. The essence of shunga was to create a seemingly unproblematic fantasy world of sexual wish-fulfilment, principally for a male audience, but not exclusively so by any means. The historian of Victorian erotic literature Steven Marcus in 1964 famously characterized this kind of closed world as a ‘pornotopia’, that is, a ‘utopia of sex’. [TC]

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • Clark et al 2013 Cat. 5 bibliographic details
    • Buckland 2010 p. 98 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited

    2013 3 Oct - 2014 5 Jan, London, BM, Shunga: Sex and pleasure in Japanese art, 1600-1900
    2015 19 Sep-2016 23 Dec, Tokyo, Eisei Bunko Museum, Shunga.

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1989

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1989,0603,0.1

Woodblock print. Shunga. Man making love to six women, possibly a parody of the Seven Gods of Good Luck.

Recto

Woodblock print. Shunga. Man making love to six women, possibly a parody of the Seven Gods of Good Luck.

Image description

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