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The Rat's Wedding

Accession Number
1960/1.162

Title
The Rat's Wedding

Artist(s)
Utagawa Toyoharu

Artist Nationality
Japanese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
late 18th century - early 19th century

Medium & Support
color woodblock print on paper

Dimensions
( )

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
Utagawa Toyoharu is famous for his panoramic prints of historical events and legendary stories that incorporate one-point vanishing perspective modeled after European prints. The Rat’s Wedding utilizes this technique, called uki-e or “floating picture,” to illustrate a portion of a popular folktale set against a deep, detailed architectural landscape.
The Rat’s Wedding is a fable known across much of Asia, in which a young rat female comes of age. Her parents decide to wed her to the most powerful being in the world, and ask the sun to marry her. Although honored by their request, the sun tells them that clouds are stronger than he, blocking his rays. They make their proposal to a cloud, who directs them to the wind, and the wind bows to the strength of the wall. The wall explains that the strongest force in the world is a rat, able to make holes in his frame. The rat maiden is happily wed to a rat, and the jubilant procession is depicted here. On another level, this print can be interpreted as a satire, in which rats mimic the ostentatious weddings of upper-class samurai.
(Japanese Gallery Rotation, Spring 2009)

Subject matter

The Rat’s Wedding is a fable known across much of Asia, including Japan, in which a young rat female comes of age. Her parents decide to wed her to the most powerful being in the world, and ask the sun to marry her. Although honored by their request, the sun tells them that clouds are stronger than he, blocking his rays. They make their proposal to a cloud, who directs them to the wind, and the wind bows to the strength of the wall. The wall explains that the strongest force in the world is a rat, able to make holes in his frame. The rat maiden is finally wed to a rat, and the jubilant procession is depicted here.

Physical Description
The majority of this print depicts a deep architectural setting. In front of the buildings a wedding procession takes place. Rats, in daimyo fashion, are celebrating.

Primary Object Classification
Print

Primary Object Type
color print

Collection Area
Asian

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
architecture (object genre)
mice (input devices)
weddings (ceremonies)

7 Related Resources

Marriage
(Part of 8 Learning Collections)
Samurai
(Part of 5 Learning Collections)
Satire
(Part of 4 Learning Collections)
The Crowd
(Part of 8 Learning Collections)
Supernatural in Japanese Art
(Part of: History 195:004 Dragons and Snow Monkeys)
Su19 Tarbet - GTBOOKS 201 : Parageographies
(Part of: 2019 Summer Study Sets)

& Author Notes

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