Re: Farting in Japanese Art

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Posted by Onara Mann on September 04, 2002 at 00:53:54:

In Reply to: Thank you, John & Dick posted by Chris D. on September 03, 2002 at 03:36:08:

Hi Chris,

Funny you should mention that, as I got my master's degree on a similar subject last year...

Farting has been a comic subject in Japanese art since at least the 12th century, and literary references go much earlier. If you're interested in a curious emaki, look for "Fukutomi zoshi". It's a 15th century scroll about a poor man who gains unexpected fortunes after being bestowed with the ability to fart musically, and his neighbor, whose attempts to copy him end in disaster!

Kawanabe Kyosai loved this scroll, and made several images based on it. I suspect your print is influenced by Kyosai's "Fart Battle of Enlightenment" or one of his other "flatulent" pieces, full of similar yellow beams. If you can find a copy of the Tokyo-Edo Hakubutsukan's Kyosai exhibition catalogue, you'll see what I mean!

What a gas!

: Thank you to both John Fiorillo and Dick Illing.

: It's great that you have access to these key reference books.

: In response to Dick's comment about the disgusting nature of the print... yes, you're right. In fact my wife won't even let me hang it on the wall! She says sell it, but I'm reticent to do that. I think the image is rather funny. It hasn't yet got to the "Either It Goes, Or I Go" stage!

: But you know, Dick, I have seen worse subject matter from Yoshitoshi... pictures so gruesome that they would probably be banned if done by a contemporary artist.

: I'm also reminded of a documentary I saw about a turn-of the-century "Fartologist" who had an act at the Moulin Rouge in Paris. Apparently the king of Belgium was so impressed by the act that he gave this "Master of the Sphincter" a gold crown in appreciation.

: I'm sure someone could base a PhD around flatulence in late 19th cent. culture!

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