An image of Moon of enlightenment


(Japan 1839 – 1892)

Moon of enlightenment, from the series One hundred aspects of the moon

Not on display
Further information

Hotei, one of the Seven Lucky Gods, was the god of happiness and good fortune. He is often depicted in loose clothes, with a large hairy stomach and leaning comfortably on a large bag of treasures. A famous theme of Zen painters, Hotei is shown pointing childlike to the moon as it suddenly appears from behind the clouds. The appearance of the moon served as a form of awakening for Hotei and as advice to us - not to mix the finger pointing at the moon with the moon itself.

Yoshitoshi’s career straddled two eras – the last years of the Edo period and the first few decades of modern Japan following the Meiji Restoration in 1867. Initially enthusiastic and opened to Western influxes, he became increasingly sceptical about the loss of numerous aspects of traditional Japanese art and culture due to rapid industrialisation and Westernisation. In a time when modern reproductive technologies such as photography and lithography were introduced to Japan and enjoyed high popularity, Yoshitoshi concentrated his efforts in introducing new themes and techniques to the stagnant art of ukiyo-e colour woodblock prints, taking it thus to a new height, before it definitely declined after his death. His highly imaginative, often flamboyant and even disturbing depictions of historical events, warriors, beautiful women and the supernatural has led him to be recognised as the last great master of traditional Japanese woodblock print.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, August 2012.

Place of origin
Japan: Meiji period 1868–1912
13 Apr 1888
colour woodblock; ôban
39.0 x 26.0 cm
Signature & date

Signed and dated.

Yasuko Myer Bequest Fund 2012
Accession number