Shibata Zeshin: White Mice - Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Artist: Shibata Zeshin

Title: White Mice

Date: c. 1880s

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Source: Minneapolis Institute of Arts
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Capitalizing on the delicate ink tonalities of traditional ink painting, Zeshin created this woodblock print composition of white mice. Mice have long been emblematic of fertility in Japan, and white mice were considered especially auspicious. In Japanese folklore, Daikokuten, the god of agriculture, employs white mice as his messengers. In commemoration of the Year of the Rat in the Asian astrological calendar, artists created the images featuring white mice. It is likely that Zeshin was commissioned to produce this image for such an occasion.

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