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otsu-e folk painting tonari no taiko

Otsu-e | God of Thunder


The usually fearsome God of Thunder has dropped his drum into the sea that makes a big thunder sound. He pulls half his body out from the thundering cloud and tries to retrieve it with an anchor which is tied to his loincloth and hangs down. Rough waves and the loating drum are depicted below. 

The God of Thunder and his drum (Kaminari to taiko). Rather than emphasizing the mysterious and frightening power of the god of thunder, Otsu-e artists humorously had him fall victim to the same misfortunes that plague human beings. Here he has accidentially dropped his drum into the ocean. Leaning precariously out of the ominous clouds, he frantically fishes for it with a heavy black hook. 
This theme was probably first painted in the early 18th century. During the 19th century, when talismanic powers became associated with certain Otsu-e, images of the god of thunder were hung in homes as protection against lightening. (Mathew Welsh: Otsu-e. Japanese folk paintings from the Harriet and Edson Spencer collection, p. 43).


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God of Thunder 

Otsu-e, 19th century

Ink and color on paper

63.6 x 23.1 cm (25.4 x 9 in.)

Mounting 130.5 x 25.5 cm (51 1/4 x 10 in.)
Wooden box

SKU: 2006
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