Cats Make For Wonderful Japanese Art

Cats Make for Wonderful Japanese Art

Yes, before there was the internet, there were cats. According to website Cool Hunting, an upcoming exhibition of cat woodblock prints is coming to New York's Japan Society Gallery. During the Edo Period, cats were a popular subject matter for Japanese artists.

Picture: apgdj

Cats are cute, sure. In Japanese folklore, the animals can bring good luck. But they can also bring harm, with legends that split-tailed cats called neko-mata could stand up and walk, converse with humans, kill humans, and even raise and control the dead!

Felines also appeared in 19th century woodblock prints and drawings to parody human behaviour, as gags, or, like today, simply to be cute. Then, there are images of cats that are just that: cats.

Here's a selection of Japanese cat prints and drawings, many of which, no doubt, will appear at the upcoming Japan Society exhibit.

Cats Make for Wonderful Japanese Art

Pictures: waretadataruwosiru

Cats Make for Wonderful Japanese Art

Pictures: Bakumatsu

In this Utagawa Kuniyoshi print that dates from the early 1840s, cats are used to spell out the Japanese word for "catfish." Yes, cat font is that old.

Cats Make for Wonderful Japanese Art

Pictures: kannsann

Cats Make for Wonderful Japanese Art

Pictures: apgdj

Cats Make for Wonderful Japanese Art

Pictures: apgdj

Kabuki cats!

Cats Make for Wonderful Japanese Art

Pictures: kannsann

Cats Make for Wonderful Japanese Art

Pictures: nekoarena

Cats Make for Wonderful Japanese Art

Pictures: AOJC

Cats Make for Wonderful Japanese Art

Pictures: rekishijin

The above Kuniyoshi image is from a kabuki play in which a cat takes the form of a woman. Nice Edo Period nekomimi!

Cats Make for Wonderful Japanese Art

Pictures: chinton2009

Cats Make for Wonderful Japanese Art

Pictures: living-lets

Cats Make for Wonderful Japanese Art

Pictures: Japan Society

Cats Make for Wonderful Japanese Art

Pictures: apgdj

This is a "cat dance." The fish on their fans is a nice touch.

Cats Make for Wonderful Japanese Art

Pictures: apgdj

Cats Make for Wonderful Japanese Art

Pictures: Japan Society

Cats Make for Wonderful Japanese Art

Pictures: mokodeli

Cats Make for Wonderful Japanese Art

Pictures: kannsann

Cats Make for Wonderful Japanese Art

Pictures: Japan Society

These artists would have loved the internet.

"Life of Cats: Selections from the Hiraki Ukiyo-e Collection" opens on Friday.


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