Oni ()

Publisher: Yeshima

c. 1844


Oni are two-legged creatures usually portrayed with sharp claws, wild hair, two horns and skin of various colors.In the earliest legends, oni were benevolent creatures said to be able to ward off evil and malevolent spirits and to punish evil-doers.Japanese Buddhism incorporated these beliefs by the thirteenth century making them the guardians of hell or the tormentors of the wicked there.Oni also came to be recognized as spirits (kami) in Shintoism.Over time, they came to be seen as harbingers or agents of calamity.The series is not listed in Kuniyoshi by Basil William Robinson (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1961).The images are each about 7 by 10 inches (18 by 25 centimeters), a size known as chŻban.Two images were printed on a sheet of paper about 14 by 10 inches (36 by 25 centimeters), a size known as Űban.


The red oni in the right upper corner has five drums with the mitsu tomoye (three commas) design.These drums are associated with thunder and also with the thunder god, knows as either Raijin or as Kaminari Sama).There is a common Japanese folk story that oni cause thunder and lightning so that they can steal children's belly buttons.This story is often employed to get children to wear warm clothing in the rain.




NOTE: This is the only print on this webpage bearing the seal of the publisher, Yeshima (left lower corner).