An image of Moon of the Southern Sea


(Japan 1839 – 1892)

Moon of the Southern Sea, from the series One hundred aspects of the moon

Not on display
Further information

Bodhisattva is the goddess of mercy and compassion known in Japan as Kannon (‘one who hears the sound of the world’) and in China as Guanyin. Depicted here is the origin of Kannon in India as Avalokitesvara. Kannon is sitting on a rocky island in the Southern Sea off the coast of India called Potalaka, a place she lived on earth. She is sitting under the moon on this rocky outpost, and behind her is a vase with healing water and a willow branch, which she would usually sprinkle over people in need. This Kannon is particualrly worshiped by fishermen and sailors.

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
colour woodblock; ôban
39.0 x 26.0 cm
Signature & date

Signed and dated.

Yasuko Myer Bequest Fund 2012
Accession number