Opulent Tanzaku Designs with Horny Tengu Demons, Kintaro, Foxes and Royals
Marijn Kruijff
2 min

Opulent Tanzaku Designs with Horny Tengu Demons, Kintaro, Foxes and Royals

2 min
During the early Meiji era (1868-1912) the artist Kawanabe Kyosai produced a series entitled ‘Byobu isso no uchi (A Pair of Screens)‘. This set of 12 sheets each consisting of 2 images (so 24 total) in the small elongated tanzaku format (7 1/8″ x  3 1/3″ inches) is elaborately printed in surimono-style.

Serious Copulation Scene

Each pair has a serious copulation scene on one side and a humorous one on the other. The serious copulation scenes are lavishly printed with embossing for the contours of the bodies to create a three-dimensional effect and additional gold and silver pigments, while the prints on the other side are more painterly in feel and with less details.
Kintaro tengu print

Fig.1. ‘The Great Tengu and Yamauba Make Love as Kintaro and a Raven Tengu Look On‘ (c.1870) from the series ‘Byobu isso no uchi (A Pair of Screens)

Great Tengu

The image depicted here (Fig.1) displays the Great Tengu and Yamauba having sex. According to tradition, Yamauba are female mountain residents. They have the ability to shapeshift into several  forms: as ghosts who ravage men, as gentlewomen who care for lost travellers and as illustrated here in the most popular form as the foster mother of the strong boy Kintaro (later Sakata [no] Yorimitsu), Kintaro hangs from a tree, and the Great Tengu’s small raven disciple flutters in the foreground. They look on, masturbating.
karasu tengu



On the reverse (Fig.2), having heard the couple’s moaning a karasu tengu tries to comfort himself by copulating a knot-hole of a pine tree.
King Zhou of Shang and his wife Daji'

Fig.3. ‘King Zhou of Shang and Daji

Fox with Nine Tails

This second design depicts Zhou Wang, the last king of the Shing Dynasty, making love to his wife Daji. The mirror in the front reflects the true form of Daji, a fox with nine tails. The old man watching the mirror could very well be Confucius, who presents Zhou in his Analects as the wicked ruler and a negative exemplar.
King Zhou of Shang and Daji'

Fig.4. Close up of the love-making royals

daji fox with nine tails

Fig.5. Close up of the mirror depicting Daiji as a kitsune (fox spirit)

surprised man ejaculating

Fig.6. The backside shows a surprised man ejaculating

Click HERE for an another amusing design from this series depicting an orgy in the imperial court…!!
Japanese Erotic Fantasies: Sexual Imagery of the Edo Period‘ by Chris Uhlenbeck a.o.
Sex and Laughter with Kyosai: Shunga from the Israel Goldman Collection‘ by Ishigami Aki and Sadamura Koto
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