Paul Binnie Yoshitoshi's Ghosts

Paul Binnie “Yoshitoshi's Ghosts” artwork
The Yoshitoshi print plays a sort of joke, as it shows the moment after a famous design by him, as it might be imagined. The large tattoo on the back is derived from Moonlight over Mount Yoshino of 1886, one of the artist's One Hundred Aspects of the Moon series, where a court lady, Iga no Tsubone, chastises the ghost of Kiyotaka for haunting the emperor. In this tattoo, we see what might have happened as a result, while the model's leg is tattooed with the demon Ibaraki, who moments before appeared in the 1889 print from the Thirty-Six Ghosts and Demons series, gripping Sadanobu's sword-hilt, but who here has lost its arm. Both of these dramatic and bloody images connect with Yoshitoshi's own love of gory imagery in his work, but the rising smoke from the incense burner reminds us of Yugiri, Genji's Lover in the Hundred Aspects print of 1886, which shows a more poetic side to the Meiji artist, and here the smoke-spirit is rendered in white lacquer. The cartouche illustration is drawn from a print of 1865 called the Greedy Hag, from the Tale of the Tongue-Cut Sparrow, and in this print the seal is based on the disfigured, skull-like head of Oiwa, one of the most chilling ghost stories in Kabuki.
Paul Binnie,
Paul Binnie
Yoshitoshi's Ghosts
Japanese title
Yoshitoshi no bakemono 芳年の化け物
Series title
A Hundred Shades of Ink of Edo
Japanese series title
Edo sumi hyaku shoku 江戸墨百色
Colour woodblock print on paper
Paper dimensions (h × w)
42.8 × 29.1 cm
Image dimensions (h × w)
39 × 27 cm
Edition size
Paul Binnie
Paul Binnie
Handsome Men (Bidanshi 美男子)
Tattoos (Irezumi 刺青)
Tattooed version of Celadon Censer
Van den Ing, E (ed.) , Paul Binnie: A Dialogue with the Past, Art Media Resources, Chicago, p. 118
Metropolitan Museum of Art collection
National Library of Australia collection
Catalogue number
81 (L139)
Supplementary images