Hokusai - c.1814. "
Girl With Octopus "
Extremely rare Japanse
color woodblock Hokusai (1760-1849). Size: 6 1/2" x 8
Date: c.1814. Fine (early) impression, color
and condition. Very minor soiling. Full size.
"Diving Girl Ravished by Octopuses". A.k.a. "The
Dream of the Fisherman's Wife".
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
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 )
Hokusai's Octopus design is the most coveted erotic print in the
history of Art !