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Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Ashmolean − Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

Japanese Ghosts and Demons: Ukiyo-e prints from the Ashmolean

(from 29th Sep 2010 until 27th Feb 2011)

Prepare for giant spiders, dancing skeletons, winged goblins, and hordes of ghostly warriors!

Japanese Ghosts and Demons: Ukiyo-e prints from the Ashmolean

Introduction

Belief in the supernatural is deep-rooted in Japanese folklore. According to Japan’s native Shinto religion, gods reside everywhere – in the forests, the fields, the mountains and in the home. The arrival of Buddhism during the sixth century AD brought with it a host more supernatural beings, and many Chinese tales of spirits and monsters were also absorbed into Japanese tradition.

Obake, the Japanese word for ghost, means ‘something that is transformed’. There are many kinds of ghosts in Japan, including household objects that come to life, animals with supernatural powers, wicked demons and the vengeful spirits of cruelly-wronged women. These beings have long been represented in Japanese art and literature – depicted in paintings and prints, carved as netsuke belt toggles and dramatized for the kabuki theatre.

The ukiyo-e woodblock prints shown here all date from the mid-19th century, when artists competed to satisfy the public’s appetite for images of the bizarre and macabre.

Prince Kurokumo and the earth spider, by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, Tōkyō, 1867 (Museum No: EA1971.213). © Ashmolean Museum, Oxford University Prince Kurokumo and the earth spider, by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, Tōkyō, 1867 (Museum No: EA1971.213).
Eastern Art Paintings Gallery - Japanese Ghosts and Demons exhibition. © Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Eastern Art Paintings Gallery - Japanese Ghosts and Demons exhibition.   Eastern Art Paintings Gallery - Japanese Ghosts and Demons exhibition. © Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Eastern Art Paintings Gallery - Japanese Ghosts and Demons exhibition.   Eastern Art Paintings Gallery - Japanese Ghosts and Demons exhibition. © Ashmolean Museum, Oxford Eastern Art Paintings Gallery - Japanese Ghosts and Demons exhibition.
Notice

Objects from past exhibitions may have now returned to our stores or a lender. Click into an individual object record to confirm whether or not an object is currently on display. Our object location data is usually updated on a monthly basis, so please contact the Jameel Study Centre if you are planning to visit the museum to see a particular Eastern Art object.

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