…by the famous artist Shibata Zeshin

lacquer painting by the famous artist Shibata Zeshin

One of the most famous works by the Japanese artist Shibata Zeshin (1808-1891), Ikbaraki depicts the female demon of Japanese folklore who terrorized everyone traveling through Kyōto’s Rashōmon gate.

A soldier dispatched to remove the demon from the gate was attacked from behind by the demon he was sent to slay. The soldier, Watanabe no Tsuna successfully defended himself but the demon escaped after Watanabe severed her forearm. The demon’s forearm was locked into the chest of Watanabe’s superior, Minamoto no Raiko. Minamoto’s aunt begged to see the arm and when he reluctantly opened the chest, his aunt snatched the arm and disappeared after showing herself to be the demon in disguise.

The painting has it’s own story beyond the folklore. Zeshin used one of his own students as a model. Ikeda Taishin wore one of his mother’s kimonos and held a large Japanese, daikon radish to represent Ikbarak’s arm.

The image here only shows the left half of the folding screen and measures 66 3/8 by 65 3/8 inches.