Sōma Ware (Sōma yaki), from the series Horse Compendium (Uma zukushi) Artist: Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760–1849)

1822, Year of the Horse

Asian Art

葛飾北斎 「馬」 相馬焼 江戸時代

This surimono by Katsushika Hokusai is dated 1822, a Year of the Horse. The title indicates that the print shows Sōma ceramic ware and is from the Horse Compendium series. The town of Sōma is well known for both horse breeding and the production of ceramics, alluded to by the tea bowl with a galloping horse. The objects accompanying the bowl are a puzzling assortment. The key to making sense of them is the Japanese verb kakeru, which has various meanings and can be written with different characters, such as ける, meaning "to run fast," as the horse on the tea bowl; ける, "to apply glazing over a pot painted in blue designs"; and ける, "to place an object over another," as the chopsticks are crisscrossed in this print. Hokusai’s visual puns thus test the viewer’s knowledge of the Japanese language.


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


sheet: 8 1/8 × 7 5/16 in. (20.6 × 18.6 cm)

Credit Line

Promised gift of Virginia Shawan Drosten and Patrick Kenadjian, B.A. 1970

Loan number



Edo period (1615–1868)


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 records is ongoing.



Joanna Haab Schoff collection; acquired by Joan B. Mirviss (dealer), New York; sold to Virginia Shawan Drosten and Patrick Kenadjian, Koenigstein im Taunus, Germany, 2017 (on loan to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2017–present)
  • Sadako Ohki and Adam Haliburton, The Private World of Surimono: Japanese Prints from the Virginia Shawan Drosten and Patrick Kenadjian Collection (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2020), 134–36, no. 35, fig. 1
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

color woodcuts, surimono


kusa no me mo\r\nfuku kagen yoki\r\nawayuki no\r\nnaka no aomi ya\r\ncha no hatsu-mukashi\r\n\r\nJust when it is warm enough\r\nfor grasses to sprout up\r\nand green shows through\r\nlight snow--it's time \r\nfor hatsu-mukashi tea!\r\n\r\nTranslated in Mirviss, Masterpieces of the Art of Surimono, no. 16, p. 40.\r\n\r\n\r\nSigned: 不染居為一 筆 Fusenkyo Iitsu hitsu (brushed by Iitsu at the residence without dye)\r\n\r\nSeries: In red guard shape seal, "Uma zukushi Soumayaki" (Souma ware from the Horse compendium)\r\n\r\n\r\nPoet: 秋風園花主 Shuufuuen Hananushi\r\n\r\n草の芽も 婦く可介んよき 淡雪の 中の青*三や 茶の初む可し\r\n\r\nkusa no me mo/ fuku kagen yoki/ awayuki no/ naka no aomi ya/ cha no hatsu-mukashi\r\n\r\n--(Just like grass buds in right shooting out of light snow, the fresh-ness of tea, ah the best kind The "New-Old" tea.)\r\n\r\n*"aomi", greenness/freshness. The kanji for "ao" looks close to that of "haru" spring, and it does not make sense if it were "haru mi" (Cf. Japanese Poetry Prints: Schoff Collection, p. 93. Cf. Hotei, Poetry & image in Japanese prints, p. 62.)\r\n\r\nAbove English is tentative. SO 2-15-2018


Fusenkyo Iitsu hitsu

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