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The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife

The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife ( Tako to


ama, literally Octopus(es) and shell diver), also known as
Girl Diver and Octopi, Diver and Two Octopi, etc., is a
zoophilia-associated woodcut design of the ukiyo-e genre
by the Japanese artist Hokusai. It is from the book Kinoe no Komatsu (English: Young Pines), a three-volume
book of shunga erotica rst published in 1814, and is
the most famous shunga Hokusai ever produced. Playing
with themes popular in Japanese art, it depicts a young
ama diver entwined sexually with a pair of octopuses.

History and description

The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife is the most famous


image in Kinoe no Komatsu, published in three volumes
from 1814, during the Edo period. The book is a work
of shunga, a form of erotic art popularized by the ukiyoe movement.* [1] The image, Hokusai's most famous
shunga design, depicts a woman, evidently an ama (a
shell diver), enveloped in the arms of two octopuses.
The larger of the two mollusks performs cunnilingus on
her, while the smaller one, his son, assists on the left by
fondling her mouth and left nipple. In the text above the
image the woman and the creatures express their mutual
sexual pleasure from the encounter.* [2]
One of Utagawa Kuniyoshi's images of Tamatori's escape from
Ryjin and his sea creatures

The work is untitled in the collection; it is generally


known as Tako to ama in Japanese, translated variously
into English. Richard Douglas Lane calls it Girl Diver
and Octopi;* [3] Mathi Forrer calls it Pearl Diver and Two
Octopi;* [4] and Danielle Talerico calls it Diver and Two
Octopi.* [5] It measures 6" 8" (16.51 cm 22.23
cm).* [6]

the surface.* [7]


The Tamatori story was a popular subject in ukiyo-e
art. The artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi produced a number of
works based on it, which often include octopuses among
the creatures being evaded by the bare-breasted diver.* [7]
In the text above Hokusai's image, the big octopus says he
will bring the girl to Ryjin's undersea palace, strengthening the connection to the Tamatori legend.* [5] The
Dream of the Fisherman's Wife is not the only work of
Edo-period art to depict erotic relations between a woman
and an octopus. A number of early netsuke carvings
show cephalopods fondling nude women.* [8]* [9] Hokusai's contemporary Yanagawa Shigenobu created an image of a woman receiving cunnilingus from an octopus
very similar to Hokusai's in his collection Suetsumuhana
of 1830.* [10]

Interpretations

Scholar Danielle Talerico notes that the image would


have recalled to the minds of contemporary viewers the
story of Princess Tamatori, highly popular in the Edo period.* [2] In this story, Tamatori is a modest shell diver
who marries Fujiwara no Fuhito of the Fujiwara clan,
who is searching for a pearl stolen from his family by
Ryjin, the dragon god of the sea. Vowing to help, Tamatori dives down to Ryjin's undersea palace of Ryg-j,
and is pursued by the god and his army of sea creatures,
including octopuses. She cuts open her own breast and Talerico notes that earlier Western critics such as Edmond
places the jewel inside; this allows her to swim faster and de Goncourt and Jack Hillier interpreted the work as a
escape, but she dies from her wound soon after reaching rape scene. However, she notes that these scholars would
1

4 NOTES
teracting with octopods such images might arise,citing Hokusai's print an early exemplar of such a tradition.* [11]
The work has inuenced a number of later artists such
as Flicien Rops, Auguste Rodin, Louis Aucoc, Fernand
Khnop, and Pablo Picasso.* [13] Picasso painted his
own version in 1903 that has been shown next to Hokusai's original in exhibits on the inuence of 19th-century
Japanese art on Picasso's work.* [14] In 2003 a derivative work by Australian painter David Laity, also titled
The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, sparked a minor
obscenity controversy when it was shown at a gallery
in Melbourne; after receiving multiple complaints Melbourne police investigated, but determined it did not
break the city's pornography laws.* [15]* [16] Hokusai's
print has had a wide inuence on the modern JapaneseAmerican artist Masami Teraoka, who has created a
number of images of women, including a recurringpearl
divercharacter, being pleasured by cephalopods as a
symbol of female sexual power.* [17]

Image by Kuniyoshi of Tamatori ghting an octopus

have seen it apart from the Kinoe no Komatsu collection


and without understanding the text and visual references,
depriving it of its original context.* [5] According to Chris
Uhlenbeck and Margarita Winkel, "[t]his print is testimony to how our interpretation of an image can be distorted when seen in isolation and without understanding
the text.* [2]

The so-calledaria della piovra(Octopus aria)Un


d, ero piccinain Pietro Mascagni's opera Iris (1898), on
a libretto by Luigi Illica, may have been inspired by this
print. The main character Iris describes a screen she had
seen in a Buddhist temple when she was a child, depicting an octopus coiling its arms around a smiling young
woman and killing her. She recalls a Buddhist priest explaining: That octopus is Pleasure... That octopus is
Death!"* [18]

4 Notes
[1] Uhlenbeck, p. 56; 161.
[2] Uhlenbeck, p. 161.
[3] Lane, p. 163

Inuence

[4] Forrer, p. 124


[5] Talerico 24-42.

The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife is often cited as


an early forerunner of tentacle erotica, a motif that has
been common in modern Japanese animation and manga
since the late 20th century. Modern tentacle erotica similarly depicts sex between human women and tentacled
beasts; notably, however, the sex in modern depictions is
typically forced, as opposed to Hokusai's mutually pleasurable interaction.* [11] Psychologist and critic Jerry S.
Piven, however, is skeptical that Hokusai's playful image
could account for the violent depictions in modern media, arguing that these are instead a product of the turmoil experienced throughout Japanese culture following
World War II, which was in turn reective of pre-existing,
underlying currents of cultural trauma.* [12] However,
scholar Holger Briel argues that only in a society that
already has a predilection for monsters and is used to in-

[6] Famous Shunga Masterpiece Diving Girl With Octopus Hokusai - c.1814 AK Antiek. Retrieved: 2011-12-17.
[7] Miller, p. 137.
[8] Schwarz, pp. 9697.
[9] Symmes, p. 132.
[10] Lenehan-White, Anne. Shunga and Ukiyo-e: Spring
Pictures and Pictures of the Floating World. www.stolaf.
edu. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
[11] Briel, p. 203.
[12] Piven, p. 110112.
[13] Bru, pp. 5577.

[14] Picasso's Japanese erotic inspiration on show in


Barcelona. The Independent. November 6, 2009. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
[15] Love is a many-tentacled thing.... The New Zealand
Herald. New Zealand Press Association. October 21,
2003. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
[16] Fickling, David (October 22, 2003). Melbourne row
over art 'porn'". The Guardian. Retrieved December 3,
2010.
[17] Bing, pp. 4447.
[18] Mallach, p. 127 and note.

References
Bing, Alison; Heartney, Eleanor; Homan, Kathryn
(2006). The madness and perversion of Yukio
Mishima. Chronicle Books. ISBN 0-8118-5097-8.
Retrieved December 3, 2010.
Briel, Holger (2010).The Roving Eye Meets Traveling Pictures: The Field of Vision and the Global
Rise of Adult Manga. In Berninger, Mark; Ecke,
Jochen; and Haberkorn, Gideon, Comics As a Nexus
of Cultures: Essays on the Interplay of Media, Disciplines, pp. 187210. McFarland. ISBN 978-07864-3987-4 Retrieved November 9, 2010.
Bru, Ricard (2010). Tentacles of love and death:
from Hokusai to Picasso. Secret Images. Picasso
and the Japanese Erotic Print, Thames & Hudson,
London, pp. 5077.
Forrer, Mathi (1992). Hokusai: Prints and Drawings.
Lane, Richard (1978). Images from the Floating
World, The Japanese Print. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-211447-1; OCLC
5246796
Lenehan-White, Anne. Shunga and Ukiyo-e:
Spring Pictures and Pictures of the Floating World
. www.stolaf.edu. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
Mallach, Alan (2002). Pietro Mascagni and his Operas. UPNE. Retrieved July 8, 2011.
Piven, Jerry S. (2004). The madness and perversion
of Yukio Mishima. Greenwood Publishing Group.
ISBN 0-275-97985-7. Retrieved November 11,
2010.
Schwarz, Karl M. (1995). Netsuke Subjects: A Study
on the Netsuke Themes with Reference to their Interpretation and Symbolism. Tuttle Publishing. ISBN
0-8048-2026-0. Retrieved November 10, 2010.

Symmes, Edwyn C. (1995). Netsuke: Japanese Life


and Legend in Miniature. Bhlau Verlag Wien.
ISBN 3-205-05515-2. Retrieved November 10,
2010.
Talerico, Danielle (2001). Interpreting Sexual
Imagery in Japanese Prints: A Fresh Approach to
Hokusais Diver and Two Octopi. In Impressions,
The Journal of the Ukiyo-e Society of America, Vol.
23.
Uhlenbeck, Chris; Margarita Winkel; Ellis Tinios;
Amy Reigle Newland (2005). Japanese Erotic Fantasies: Sexual Imagery of the Edo Period. Hotei.
ISBN 90-74822-66-5.

6 TEXT AND IMAGE SOURCES, CONTRIBUTORS, AND LICENSES

Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses

6.1

Text

The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dream_of_the_Fisherman'{}s_Wife?oldid=


673965841 Contributors: Shii, Paul Barlow, Ootachi, Error, Adam Conover, Agtx, Shavenwarthog, WhisperToMe, Furrykef, Grendelkhan,
Branddobbe, Paranoid, Altenmann, Jax, Varlaam, BesigedB, Antandrus, J3, Nils~enwiki, MakeRocketGoNow, O'Dea, Keenanpepper,
Fataltourist, Sockatume, MBisanz, Aaronbrick, Kaveh, Oop, Jumbuck, Keenan Pepper, LordAmeth, Simetrical, Havermayer, Clemmy,
Male1979, , Ajshm, Gerbrant, Marudubshinki, Mandarax, Sparkit, Cuchullain, Fishanthrope, Bensin, Shenzhuxi, Margosbot~enwiki, Nihiltres, Ptcamn, American007, Dogcow, Mkill, Jcvamp, Tanet, SmackBot, Nihonjoe, Zserghei, BiT, Tyciol, Scwlong, Can't
sleep, clown will eat me, Cybercobra, Curly Turkey, Arthuralee, Normalityrelief, Mgiganteus1, For great justice., Seqsea, Woodroar, JoeBot, RekishiEJ, Astrubi, CmdrObot, Angelynx-prime, Rv, Epbr123, Maxxo, The Wednesday Island, Dick morandt, AntiVandalBot, Skomorokh, Hno3, Magioladitis, Froid, Fslap, Erkan Yilmaz, J.A.McCoy, Johnbod, Ksy92003, RVJ, GrahamHardy, Vilem l., Michaeljharary,
Enkyo2, SieBot, Oda Mari, Wmpearl, Avnjay, Nyssa23, Thedreamoftheshermanswife, SteveCoppock, LAX, Mpdimitro, Rhododendrites, Deerstop, Bearsona, Addbot, B2xiao~enwiki, Fieldday-sunday, Metsavend, Rikku223, Ccacsmss, Tide rolls, Lightbot, Luckas-bot,
Jdub2255, AnomieBOT, Petropoxy (Lithoderm Proxy), LucienBOT, RedBot, Lotje, EmausBot, WikitanvirBot, Riggr Mortis, Assortedslog, Tyros1972, ClueBot NG, Helpful Pixie Bot, Hzy980512, Gabriel Yuji, Dan653, Pidelaserra, Freshboxey, Cpt.a.haddock, Maigo
ghost, Lingzhi, MagicatthemovieS, Monkbot, Jilsim, Srgio Itigo, Knife-in-the-drawer, Slainte12, Antiquebookimages, Toorealforyou and
Anonymous: 115

6.2

Images

File:Commons-logo.svg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/4a/Commons-logo.svg License: ? Contributors: ? Original


artist: ?
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work Original artist: Convert to SVG by OsamaK from Image:Nihongo.png. based on w:Image:Nihongo Bunpou b.200x200.png.
File:Tako_to_ama_retouched.jpg Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b7/Tako_to_ama_retouched.jpg License: Public domain Contributors: http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/IqaZK0BxaIlKtTVWZJc0ew Original artist: Katsushika Hokusai ()
File:Tamakatzura_Tamatori_attacked_by_the_octopus.jpg Source:
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6.3

Content license

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