Girl With Octopus - Hokusai - c.1814.
Katsushika ( 1760 ~ 1849 )
Extremely rare Japanse color
woodblock Hokusai (1760-1849).
Size: 6 1/2" x 8 3/4"
inches. Date: c.1814.
Fine impression (with gauffrage on the
tentacles), color and condition.
Full size. Title: "Diving
Girl Ravished by Octopuses". A.k.a. "The Dream of the
Series: "Kinoe no komatsu"
(Languishing for Love/ Young Pine Saplings).
"In Hokusai's most famous shunga, a large octopus performs
cunnilungus on a woman abalone diver or ama,
and a smaller one,
perhaps his offspring, kisses her and fondles one of her nipples
with a tentacle. This print is testimony to how our interpretation
of an image can be distorted when seen in isolation and without
understanding the text. A recent study by Danielle Talerico (2001:
24-42) explains that this image was initially considered by
Western collectors and scholars like Edmund de Goncourt, Jack
Hillier and Richard Lane to represent a rape scene. Talerico's
study shows that an Edo audience would have associated the image
with the story of Tamatori. In the legend, the abalone diver
Tamatori sacrifices her life to save the Emperor by cutting open
her breast, where she hides the jewel she has stolen from the
Sea-Dragon King in his underwater Dragon Palace. The Sea-Dragon
King is accompanied by all nature of sea creatures, including
octopuses.The dialogues between the two creatures and the diver
express mutual sexual enjoyment (see Talerico 2001: 37, for a
complete translation)". (p. 161 in 'Japanese Erotic
Fantasies' by C. Uhlenbeck and M. Winkel)
"This illustration, of a woman with two octopuses, twin
incubi, has lost none of his power to disturb (...) Despite the
considerable amount that has been written about this work, all
attempts to interpret and elucidate it end up by revealing more
about the writer than about the original work. It remains one of
those designs which require neither advocacy nor analysis in order
to work its mysterious effect". (p.249 in 'Shunga, the Erotic
Art of Love in Japan' by Tom and Mary Evans)
"...On the right, a large octopus ravishes the girl with
androit cunnilungus, while a smaller octopus (his son?) assists
earnestly at the left. Yet however bizarre the concept, the effect
is neither comic nor pornographic; in this fantasy of a passionate
shell diver, we discover a new facet of Hokusai's genius and a
consummate work of erotica". (Richard Lane - 'Love's
Labour's Found: The Erotic Art of Hokusai)
"The most beautiful Japanese erotic print that I know is
truly frightening: it is of a Japanese woman mounted by an
octopus; with its tentacles, the horrible beast sucks the tips of
her breasts and rummages in her mouth, while its head drinks from
her lower parts. The almost superhuman expression of agony and
sorrow - which convulses this long, graceful female figure with
aquiline nose - and the hysterical joy - which emanates at the
same time from her forehead, from those eyes closed as in death -
are admirable". (J.K. Huysman - 1889)
" ...a terrifying plate...the nude form of a woman, swooning
with pleasure..." (Edmond de Goncourt)
Perhaps Hokusai's Octopus design is the most coveted erotic print
in the history of Art !