Vegder's Blog

August 30, 2015

The 7 Propitious Gods: Ebisu/The Leech-child

I don’t know about you, but just the mention of leeches gives me the creeps. It is something visceral – with me at least. That said, a person can’t spend any time studying the nature of the god Ebisu without talking about leeches. However, if I started off with those disgusting bloodsuckers then I might lose you forever. So, instead, let’s look at a few other representations of this particular lucky god before we deal the the darker elements. Some of the images are so lighthearted it will be hard to see Ebisu as anything other than benign at the least. A good place to begin is with one of my favorite depictions of him, a print by Kunisada, ca. 1810, at the very beginning of his very long and productive career. It even gives us a sense of how great this artist was going to be.

Mead_Kunisada_Ebisu_tai_7b   Mead Art Museum, Amherst College

Leaving aside his birth for the moment, let’s look at one version of his childhood 

Oberlin_Shigemasa_Boy_as_Ebisu_7b   Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College – Kitao Shigemasa, ca. 1770s-80s

Kumon_Eizan_Ebisu_child_7c   Kumon Institute of Education – Kikugawa Eizan

What does Humphey Bogart have to do with Ebisu? Just wait… I’ll tell you later.


***Please note that today is August 30, 2015 and I have just started this post. There will be much more to come in both pictures and words in the next few weeks. So, please come back often to see what has been added.

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