- Museum number
Object: Mayoke 馬除 (The Talisman)
Series: Uma-zukushi 馬盡 (A Set of Horses)
Colour woodblock print, surimono. Porcelain plant pot, towel rack, water pitcher and lacquer basin. With poem. Inscribed, sealed and marked.
- Production date
Height: 20.10 centimetres
Width: 17.60 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Smith et al 1990
In the year of the horse (1822) Hokusai designed a series of elegant 'surimono' still-life compositions relating very obliquely to the general theme of horses.
The poem by Sanseitei Marumi which appears on the print has been translated by Roger Keyes ('The Art of Surimono', no. 200) as follows:
Hatsuhikage In the rays
Nioteru haru ni Of the Spring sun
Omi no ya On Lake Biwa,
Kagami no yama o Mirror Mountain
Miru mo mabayuki Also glitters
The 'Eight Views' of Lake Biwa, near Kyoto, were a subject for classical ink-paintings, and Hokusai has hidden references to these famous views throughout the design: Mii Temple, Ishiyama Temple and Mount Hira painted on the porcelain plant pot; the Ukimido 'Floating' Temple at Katada and the Long Bridge of Seta decorating the lacquer pitcher and basin; Awazu Castle and the returning boats at Yabase on the towel (which itself represents the sail of one of the boats); the miniature pine tree standing in place of the ancient pine at Karasaki.
Keyes, Roger, 'The Art of Surimono', London, 1985.
Gray, Basil, 'The Work of Hokusai-Woodcuts, Illustrated Books, Drawings and Paintings: A Catalogue of an Exhibition held on the Occasion of the Centenary of his Death', British Museum, London, 1948, no. 25.
Horses was a series of thirty luxuriously produced surimono prints specially commissioned by the Yomo group to carry their poems celebrating the spring, published in 1822, a horse year. Each print was given a title relating in some way to horses, from which a concept was devised, poems composed and a picture created. Most of the scenes are still lifes, but they also include landscapes and genre scenes. Compared to the series Genroku kasen kai awase (Genroku Shell Competition) of the previous year, the originality of conception and composition in this series is even more fully realized. This image features equipment for face-washing – water pitcher, basin, towel and towel rack – as well as a potted pine and Adonis flower. The inscription on the plant pot – ‘Mii, Ishiyama, and Hira – three views’ – indicates the picture playfully incorporates references associating particular objects with the canonical Eight Views of Lake Biwa, as follows: the plant pot with Miidera, Ishiyama and Hira; the miniature pine with Karasaki; the lacquer design on the pitcher with Seta; the basin, which depicts Ukimidō temple, with Katada; and the pictures on the towel with Awazu and Yabase. (The towel on the rack may stand for ‘Returning sails at Yabase’.) The poem reads: ‘In the first rays / Of the spring sun / On Lake Biwa / Mirror mountain / Also glitters. Sanseitei Marumi’ (trans. Roger Keyes). The print’s title, Mayoke, can mean ‘stockade’ (for keeping out people and animals); if so it could be connected to the legend of Akechi Mitsuharu. Having crossed Lake Biwa after the Battle of Yamazaki riding Okage, his much-loved horse, Mitsuharu then tethered the animal and entered Sakamoto castle alone, on foot.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2012 Feb – Jun, Paris, Musée de l’Orangerie, ‘Debussy, Music and the Arts’
2017 25 May - 13 Aug, London, BM, G35, Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave
2017 6 Oct - 19 Nov, Osaka, Abeno Harukas Art Museum
2022 16 Apr-12 Jun, Tokyo, Suntory Museum of Art, Hokusai from the British Museum
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Eight Views of Lake Biwa
- Acquisition date
- Registration number