About Me

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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Thursday, March 02, 2017

a cat threatening goldfish

Gift of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., 1946 philamuseum.org
That's a brave cat.  I wouldn't take on those fish - they look like they mean business.
This is Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) with one image from his 1849 woodcut series "A Set of Goldfish" (see more of them here).  This one is called "A Cat Threatening Goldfish, or Ghost Stories (Hyaku monogatari)," and is based on a fascinating ghost story game that originated in Edo-period Japan.
The game itself is called Hyakumonogatari.  In essence it involves a number of players lighting 100 candles, then each person tells a scary story, dousing one candle at the end of their tale.  When all the candles were out, some frightening spirit would be waiting.  So who was brave enough to blow out the final candle?  You can learn more about the game (and find some Japanese ghost stories, or kaidan) at this excellent site.    I haven't been able to find the story behind this image, though.  Let me know if you do!

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