From a set of six tanzaku prints with pictures printed on both sides. The front side designed by Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831-1889) and the reverse depicting the twelve animals of the East Asian zodiac (Fig.4) by Shibata Zeshin (1807-1891). The set features elaborate printing techniques such as silver patterns on areas of gold and embossing in the animal’s fur.
This design (Fig.1) by Kyosai depicts the Lucky God Fukurokuju* making love anally (!) to Otafuku** who are observed by an aroused oni (demon). The pairing of the Lucky Gods with the demon is most probably a reference to Setusbun, the bean-scattering ceremony to expel devils and invite good fortune. The custom was thought to ensure a year free of evil.
*Fukurokuju is one of the Seven Lucky Gods in Japanese mythology, and represents wisdom and longevity. He is usually portrayed as bald with long whiskers and an elongated forehead.
**Otafuku (aka Ofuku) is a well-known figure in Japanese mythology. She is often depicted with large cheeks and a joyful smile, her name translates to “much good fortune”.
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