This large-format stencil print shows four of the Twelve Heavenly Generals (Jūni shinshō), Buddhist protective deities associated with Yakushi Nyorai, the Medicine Master Buddha. Mori Yoshitoshi was close to Yanagi Sōetsu (1889–1961), who was part of the Mingei folk craft movement, as well as the print artist Munakata Shikō (1903–1975) and Serizawa Keisuke (1895–1984), who created stencil-dyed textiles.
These artists, though working in different media, had a shared aesthetic of bold, graphic forms that drew on traditional folk art. After a public dispute with Yanagi in the early 1960s, Mori broke from the Mingei movement and moved into making kappazuri, or stencil prints, which he carved himself. The origins of kappazuri can be traced to stencil dyeing (katazome) used for textiles.
Janice L. Gabrilove , New York (until 2013; donated to MMA)