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The Tale of Shuten Doji

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Tuesday, March 14, 2023 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0246
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Materials for this program

The Tale of Shuten Doji, Edo period, 17th century (Freer Gallery of Art / Charles Lang Freer Endowment)

The Tale of Shuten Doji is a 14th-century Japanese legend recounting the conquest of a terrifying, flesh-eating ogre Shuten Doji by the warrior Raiko and his four loyal retainers. The story was extremely popular in both visual and performing arts genres during the Edo period (ca. 1600–1868) and was illustrated on a wide range of media, including painted scrolls, folding screens, and wood-block prints.

At first glance, the tale appears to recount a typical story of gallant warrior heroes battling savage demons and rescuing beautiful maidens, but a closer look reveals a much more complex picture of socially marginalized groups and notions of otherness.

Art historian Yui Suzuki examines the illustrated tale in depth, focusing on both the conventional and cryptic meanings that the artworks convey.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit*

General Information

*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1/2 elective credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.