Item ID: 10030 A most unusual erotic scroll, on paper, with nine finely painted scenes, in rich pigments. EROTICA SCROLL, MOJIRI.
A most unusual erotic scroll, on paper, with nine finely painted scenes, in rich pigments.
A most unusual erotic scroll, on paper, with nine finely painted scenes, in rich pigments.
A most unusual erotic scroll, on paper, with nine finely painted scenes, in rich pigments.
A most unusual erotic scroll, on paper, with nine finely painted scenes, in rich pigments.
A most unusual erotic scroll, on paper, with nine finely painted scenes, in rich pigments.
A most unusual erotic scroll, on paper, with nine finely painted scenes, in rich pigments.
A most unusual erotic scroll, on paper, with nine finely painted scenes, in rich pigments.
A most unusual erotic scroll, on paper, with nine finely painted scenes, in rich pigments.

Most Unusual

A most unusual erotic scroll, on paper, with nine finely painted scenes, in rich pigments.

Scroll (273 x 5750 mm.), silk gilt brocade at beginning as outer endpaper, gold paper as inner endpaper, wooden core roller. [Japan: late Edo].

This scroll contains a series of nine extremely unusual and complex erotic paintings; they are parodies or burlesques (mojiri,もじり), with rather grotesque imagery, all referring to classic Japanese tales, theater pieces, and historical personages. Parodies, burlesques, and humorous satires were an essential aspect of shunga images and, indeed, of popular literary and visual arts in general during the Edo era. “Literary classics, religion, foreign worlds, even female emperors and emperor consorts, and other famous historical figures — all were victims of shunga parody… Irreverence and libertarianism in the face of authority and tradition was a sustained undercurrent in much shunga production.”–C. Andrew Gerstle, “Shunga and Parody” in Shunga. Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art (British Museum: 2013), p. 318–(& see the rest of this thoughtful essay discussing why shunga should be taken seriously as a counter-discourse in the face of Tokugawa restrictions).

The nine scenes, by a master artist, require careful study to begin to understand their complexities, references, and nuances. These are not simple “naughty” images but richly suggestive paintings, filled with veiled messages and coded cues, high and low humor, plays on words and names, etc.

We will discuss the final painting in order to give the reader an idea of the research possibilities of this scroll (we have not fully worked out all the references). Like the other paintings, in this scene there are two captions: the first states ぼぼらい山 or “Bobo raisan,” a play on words, imitating the sound for Mt. Hōrai 蓬莱山, a mythical mountain island paradise believed to lie far out in the East China Sea. “Bobo,” in Edo-era Japanese slang, denoted “female genitalia” or sexual intercourse. “Raisan” means “praise” or “worship,” suggesting the worship of women’s genitals and sex in general.

The other caption — 相おいのまつ or “Twin Pines” – is a reference to the traditional Noh play Takasago (also known as Aioi no matsu 相生松 or “Twin Pines”). It is considered to be a very auspicious story, involving a loving and long-married couple.

Paintings of Mt. Hōrai island often feature a turtle (a symbol of longevity) — carrying the island on its back — and pine trees (another symbol of longevity), growing out of the sides of the mountain. In our painting, we see a long-tailed tortoise, with a penis for a head, carrying a mammoth vagina (in place of the mountain); two erect penises sprouting pine needles (the “twin pines”), are growing out of the vagina. A crane, another symbol of longevity, is flying above. Its head is a vagina.

We have only suggested the nuances and meanings in this image; there is much more to know about this and the other eight paintings in our scroll.

In fine condition, preserved in a modern wooden scroll box.

Price: $9,500.00

Item ID: 10030