Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife

The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife (Tako to ama, literally Octopus(es) and shell diver), also known as Girl Diver and Octopi, Diver and Two Octopi, etc., is a zoophilia-associated woodcut design of the ukiyo-e genre by the Japanese artist Hokusai. It is from the book Kinoe no Komatsu (English: Young Pines), a three-volume book of shunga erotica first published in 1814, and is the most famous shunga Hokusai ever produced. Playing with themes popular in Japanese art, it depicts a young ama diver entwined sexually with a pair of octopuses. The notion of invasion or abduction from sea creatures seems to be a recurrent theme in Japanese folklore.

The work has influenced a number of later artists including Pablo Picasso. Picasso painted his own version in 1903 that has been shown next to Hokusai's original in exhibits on the influence of 19th-century Japanese art on Picasso's work. In 2003 a derivative work by Australian painter David Laity, also titled The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, sparked a minor obscenity controversy when it was shown at a gallery in Melbourne; after receiving multiple complaints Melbourne police investigated, but determined it did not break the city's pornography laws. Hokusai's print has had a wide influence on the modern Japanese-American artist Masami Teraoka, who has created a number of images of women, including a recurring "pearl diver" character, being pleasured by cephalopods.

By South Utsire

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