About this artwork
This print shows a snake, symbolizing malevolence, as it crawls over the items used in a memorial service for the dead. In accordance with custom, the display includes a box of sweets, a spirit tablet inscribed with the Buddhist name of the deceased, and a green leaf floating in a bowl of fresh water.
The Art Institute’s collection boasts one of the most well-preserved and appreciated editions of Katsushika Hok usa i’s One Hundred Ghost Tales series (1831–32). The artist apparently planned to produce a full hundred images, but the series was not completed and only five prints are known. The title refers to a game in which people would gather at night to tell scary stories, putting out a candle after each tale until the room was completely dark. These small-format works feature a bright-blue color made possible by Berlin blue pigment (often called “Prussian blue”), which had become affordable shortly before their production. Although this hue may seem cheery to us, Hokusai’s original audience would have associated it with death and the occult.
- Currently Off View
- Arts of Asia
- Katsushika Hokusai
- Memorial Anniversary (Shunen), from the series "One Hundred Ghost Tales (Hyaku monogatari)"
- Japan (Artist's nationality:)
- Color woodblock print; chuban
- 24.3 × 18.5 cm (9 5/8 × 7 5/16 in.)
- Clarence Buckingham Collection