- Museum number
Painting, hanging scroll. Seven Gods of Good Luck at Enoshima: Benzaiten seated on ox, taking ride along Shichiri-ga-hama, accompanied by remaining Lucky Gods and Chinese boys; Enoshima, with red shrine and temple buildings, in distance; Mt Fuji directly behind Enoshima; boys putting into Hotei's sack lucky jewels and precious coral; Jurojin fling in on crane; long-tailed turtle swimming in sea. Ink, colour and gold on silk. Signed and sealed.
- Production date
Height: 54.50 centimetres
Width: 84.40 centimetres
- Curator's comments
The island of Enoshima near Kamakura was a popular place of pilgrimage and tourism for people from Edo (modern Tokyo), especially when there were special displays of shrine and temple treasures ('kaicho'), which occurred every six years (cats 38-9, 43). The deity enshrined there was Benzaiten (or Benten), goddess of wealth and music and the only female deity among the Seven Lucky Gods (Shichifukujin). Here she is shown seated on an ox, taking a ride along 'Seven League' Beach (Shichiri-ga-hama) as other tourists did, accompanied by the remaining Lucky Gods and Chinese boys. Enoshima, with its red shrine and temple buildings, can be seen in the distance, with Mt Fuji directly behind. The boys are putting into Hotei's sack not shells but lucky jewels and precious coral; Jurojin flies in on a crane; and a long-tailed turtle swims in the sea - all auspicious motifs to promote the wealth and long life of the owner of the painting. Mt Fuji was frequently depicted from Shichiri-ga-hama, as there was an uninterrupted sea view across Sagami Bay (fig. 5, p. 16).
Hokuba was one of the earliest and most significant pupils of Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), just about the only one who was ultimately able to establish a truly independent painting style. From about 1800-12 he is known to have produced illustrations for more than sixty 'kyoka' poetry anthologies and novels in the 'yomihon' and 'gokan' genres. The rest of his career as an artist was given over mainly to painting hanging scrolls of beautiful women, typically with the figure done in highly colourful detail and the landscape, as here, in an ink-wash style adopted from the Edo Kano school. This comic subject is relatively unusual among Hokuba's works and dates from late in his career, roughly the Tempo era (1830-44), when he generally signed works with the art-name Teisai.
Anderson, William. 'Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of a Collection of Japanese and Chinese Paintings in the British Museum'. London, Trustees of the British Museum, 1886, no. 1762.
'Hizo ukiyo-e taikan'. vol. 1, Tokyo, Kodansha, 1987, no. 144 (commentary by NagataSeiji).
Clark, Timothy. 'Ukiyo-e Paintings in the British Museum'. London, British Museum Press, 1992, no. 124.
The shrine to Benzaiten, goddess of wealth and good fortune, on the island of Enoshima near Kamakura was consecrated in 1182 at the orders of Minamoto no Yoritomo. Together with shrines on the islands of Chikubushima and Itsukushima it is one of the three great Benzaiten shrines of Japan. The red pagoda of the shrine can be seen on Enoshima Island in the background of this painting, with Mt Fuji in the distance behind. Enoshima was a popular pilgrimage destination from Edo, particularly in the light of the growing cult of the Seven Gods of Good Luck after the middle Edo period.
Thus it is highly appropriate that Benzaiten has come out on an ox to meet the other Six Gods of Good Luck in this auspicious New Year painting. Daikoku and Ebisu with his fishing-rod lead the way, with Bishamon wearing his habitual Chinese armour carrying a treasure sack in which two Chinese boy attendants are playing with Bishamon's golden treasure tower, to his apparent annoyance. Jurojin kneels on the beach, while two boys put lucky treasure jewels and coral into his hat (instead of shells) and another boy scoops jewels into Hotei's sack with his Chinese fan. Last, but not least, Fukurokuju flies in on a crane to join the band. In this large painting full of delightful detail Hokuba shows us a humorous inventiveness not often seen in his other works.
Anderson, William, 'Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of Japanese and Chinese Paintings in the British Museum'. London, Trustees of the British Museum, 1886, no. 1762.
'(Hizo) Ukiyo-e taikan' ('Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections'), ed. Narazaki Muneshige. Vol. 1, Tokyo, Kodansha, 1987, no. 144.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2001, 11 May-29 Jul, BM Japanese Galleries, '100 Views of Mount Fuji'
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The collection of over 2,000 Japanese and Chinese paintings assembled by Prof. William Anderson during his residency in Japan, 1873-1880, was acquired by the Museum in 1881. The items were not listed in the register, but rather were published separately as the 'Descriptive and Historical Catalogue of a Collection of Japanese and Chinese Paintings in the British Museum' (Longmans & Co, 1886).
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Asia painting number: Jap.Ptg.1497 (Japanese Painting Number)