ORIGINAL TITLE Title: Seven Lucky Gods
MATERIAL: Woodblock Printed
DIMENSIONS: 30 x 14.5 inches.
COMPONENTS: Woodblock triptych
CONDITION: Fine impressions & colors, generally good shape for the age.
REFERENCE EXTERNAL LINKS: Kodomo-e genre in ukiyo-e

ITEM ID: 3625
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Seven Lucky Gods on a Happy Ship

Year: 1888
Notes: Meiji 21 (1888) 

A woodblock triptych about the Seven Lucky Gods on a Happy Ship.

In Japanese mythology, the Seven Lucky Gods or Seven Gods of Fortune (七福神, shichifukujin in Japanese) are believed to grant good luck and are often represented in netsuke and in artworks. One of the seven (Jurōjin) is said to be based on an historical figure.

They all began as remote and impersonal gods, but gradually became much closer canonical figures for certain professions and Japanese arts. During the course of their history, the mutual influence between gods has created confusion about which of them was the patron of certain professions. The worship of this group of gods is also due to the importance of the number seven in Japan, supposedly a signifier of good luck.
It is known that these deities have their origins in ancient gods of fortune: from the Indian Hinduism (Benzaiten, Bishamonten, Daikokuten); and from the Chinese Taoism and Buddhism (Fukurokuju, Hotei, Jurojin)[citation needed], except for one (Ebisu) who has a Japanese ancestry.

These gods have been recognized as such for over a thousand years. In the beginning, these gods were worshiped by merchants as the first two (Ebisu and Daikokuten) were gods of business and trade.
Subsequently, the other classes of Japanese society looked for other gods that could correspond with their professions: Benzaiten as the patron of the arts, Fukurokuju as the patron of the sciences, and so on.

In ancient times, these gods were worshipped separately, but this rarely happens today – only when it is required for the god to act on behalf of the applicant.
The Seven Gods of Fortune started being mentioned as a collective in the year 1420 in Fushimi, in order to imitate the processions of the daimyōs, the feudal lords of pre-modern Japan.

It is said that the Buddhist priest Tenkai selected these gods after speaking with the shōgun he served, Iemitsu Tokugawa, at the order of seeking whoever possessed the perfect virtues: longevity, fortune, popularity, sincerity, kindness, dignity, and magnanimity.

According to scholar Morihiro Satow, “This might be a kind of mitate-e, in which children are represented AS Shichifuku-jin. Likewise, the toys are represented as the attributes of Shichifuku-jin. Just like Ito Jakuchu’s “Vegetable Nirvana.”

Name: Hiroshige
Type: Artist