The God of Good Fortune Jurōjin

Soga Shōhaku Japanese

Not on view

Jurōjin, one of the seven Japanese gods of good fortune, is seated in a small boat with a white deer, his frequent companion. To compound the felicitous imagery, Jurōjin hoists a small minogame (straw-raincoat turtle) into the boat, and above him soars a crane, both symbols of longevity. The “mantle” of the turtle is formed from seaweed and attests to how long the amphibious animal has lived. Jurōjin’s forehead is traditionally depicted as overly large or elongated, emblematic of his wisdom. The accenting of his mouth and lips with bright red, a color associated with the budding of flowers in spring, adds to the celebratory effect of this work, no doubt made for the New Year.

The vigorous ink brushwork used to delineate the forms of the tree and stones, including Chinese “axe-cut” strokes, are characteristic of Soga Shōhaku’s work, though here might have been created with the assistance of members of his atelier. The rendering of the facial features and hands of Jurōjin, the representation of the deer, as well as the dynamic curved strokes of the waves, bespeak the brush of the master. The impression of the "Kiichi" seal is one known from other accepted Shōhaku works.

The God of Good Fortune Jurōjin, Soga Shōhaku (Japanese, 1730–1781), Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper, Japan

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