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Asian Art
Artist: Keisai Eisen, Japanese, 1790–1848

Still‑Life with a Ceramic Stroking‑Ox (Nade‑ushi)

1829 (Year of the Ox)

Surimono, shikishi-ban; polychrome woodblock print with gold and silver pigment

sheet: 20.5 × 18.2 cm (8 1/16 × 7 3/16 in.)
Gift of Virginia Shawan Drosten and Patrick Kenadjian, B.A. 1970
2020.2.2

渓斎英泉 撫

牛 江戸時代

Many surimono are puzzling unless one recognizes and understands their cultural symbols and background. This print is certainly one of them. The black ceramic ox rests on three layers of colorful cushions. Adonis flowers, or

fukujusō
(happiness and longevity grass), a familiar symbol of the New Year, bloom in a flowerpot. The first poem explains that the print depicts a “stroking ox” (nade-ushi). In merchant circles during this period, a popular custom was to stroke a figurine of an ox while making wishes for good fortune. Each time a wish was granted, a new cushion was made to add underneath the ox. The more wishes realized, the higher the stack of futon mats.
Geography: 
Japan
Status: 
On view
Culture: 
Japanese
Period: 
Edo period (1615–1868)
Classification: 
Works on Paper - Prints
Provenance: 

Joan B. Mirviss (dealer), New York; sold to Virginia Shawan Drosten and Patrick Kenadjian, Koenigstein im Taunus, Germany, 2006 (on loan to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2017–2019); given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2019

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.