Katsushika Hokusai “Mystical Bird (Karyōbinga)”

Mystical Bird (Karyōbinga)

Woodblock print (surimono); ink and color on paper • Edo period • 21,7 x 17,9 cm • 1820–33 • The Met

This surimono New Year’s card depicts a mystical Buddhist bird (karyōbinga in Japanese; kalavinca in Sanskrit) characterized by a bird’s body and a human head. It is said that one can never tire of listening to the creature’s heavenly music. The New Year’s poems were inscribed by Nikyō and Kokusui. Hokusai’s signature reads Hokusai aratame Iitsu (“Hokusai changed to Iitsu”). The work is from the artist’s very productive Iitsu period (ca. 1820–33).

Self Portrait of Hokusai

Katsushika Hokusai

Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period
was born in the Katsushika district of Edo [now Tokyo], Japan

October 31, 1760

His style: Ukiyo-e

Check my tribute to this great artist here: Katsushika Hokusai


15 replies »

  1. These are beautiful works of art, Marina — I love Japanese art, it’s extremely technical and tells so many stories. The colours are beautiful, and traditional. Great!

  2. A wonderful post and tribute to an amazing artist who captures my imagination. His views of Mount Fuji and The Great Wave of Kanazawa are legendary. The idea of combining a bird’s body and human head reminds me that we have always wanted to fly in the heavens. And yet, we belong to the earth. Mystical and mythological. Thank you, Marina for celebrating Hokusai’s birthday with us!

    • Oh, so happy you enjoyed this brief reminder of this amazing artist birthday. Being kindred spirits I knew you’d be fascinated by him.
      Thank you, my dearest Rebecca!
      Many hugs your way.

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