Two Rare Bean-Sized Shunga of the Lucky Gods by Kawanabe Kyosai
These two mameban* shunga prints in comic-picture style may at one time have been part part of a larger set of which these are the only two known examples.
The first print (Fig.1) shows the lucky god Hotei and another man (perhaps Jurojin) staring amazedly at an enormous vagina. Concealed within Hotei's robes are the two characters "tsuchinoto mi," corresponding to the year 1869. Within the wrinkles and the contours of the garment we also find numbers representing the short months of that year, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 10, while concealed within the large vagina are the characters for the long months: shō (for the first month), then 2, 3, 6, 9, 11 and 12.
The second image (Fig.2) depicts a tug-of-war between Fukurokuju and Taishakuten. Instead of traditional tug-of-war, played by two people connected by a loop of rope around their necks, the test of strength is between Fukurokuju's elongated head and Taishakuten's penis. Benzaiten laughs as she watches the contest.
Inscribed within Fukurokuju's garment are the numbers for the short months 4, 5, 7, 8 and 10. Inscribed from the head of Taishakuten to his toe are the numbers of the long months: shō, 2, 3, 6, 9, 11 and 12. Kyosai's talent for comic pictures appears in the clever way he incorporated the numbers 11 and 12 into Taishakuten's contour as he braces his open legs.
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*Mameban — the name means "bean print" — each half a koban and barely larger than a credit card (approx. 7.5 x 12.0 cm/ 2.95 x 4.72 in)