From late 19th-century
Arthur May Knapp (died 1906), Yokohama, in the late 19th-century 
Kenneth Folger Crafts, Mahwah, NY, by descent, to 1997 
Freer Gallery of Art, given by Kenneth Folger Crafts in 1996 
 According to a letter from the donor (dated November 14, 1984), Arthur May Knapp was a U.S. Consul in Yokohama in the late 19th-century (see Curatorial Note 2, Ann Yonemura, August 20, 1997, in the object record).
 According to Curatorial Note 2, Ann Yonemura, August 20, 1997, in the object record.
 Transferred to the Freer Permanent Collection from the Freer Study Collection on May 27, 1997 (see Curatorial Note 1, Elizabeth F. Duley, May 27, 1997, in the object record).
- Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)
Kenneth Folger Crafts
Arthur May Knapp died 1906
The painting depicts the Japanese diety Susanoo no Mikoto, possibly in the episode in which he slays a dragon from whose body he acquires the sword that was later known as Kusanagi, which became one of the imperial regalia. This story is recorded in the 8th-century Kojiki, the first written account of Japanese history.
Signature of painter, Kimura Masatsune.
Susano'o no Mikoto, a deity variously associated with water, storms, and the underworld, is here portrayed as a hero who extracts from the tail of a dragon the sword that becomes one of the three sacred objects of the imperial regalia, symbolic of the legitimacy and authority of the emperor. Sacred jewels in the curved form known as magatama and the sacred mirror used to lure the sun goddess Amaterasu Omikami from her cave when she refused to emerge are also part of the Japanese imperial regalia.
Accounts of the deities who established the Japanese nation had attracted the interest late in the Edo period (1615-1868) of Japanese scholars who sought to counterbalance the strong influence of Chinese ideas. During the Meiji era, the prominent and powerful public role of the emperor stimulated popular interest in ancient stories of Japanese deities and their roles in establishing the nation and the imperial line of rulers.
- Collection Area(s)
- Japanese Art
- Web Resources
- Google Cultural Institute
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