Dream Of The Fisherman's Wife

The legend of Tamatori Hime tells of a pearl diver who stole a precious bead protected by the King of the Underworld. The bead had been lost to the sea, intended for the Japanese Emperor -- a gift from his Chinese equivalent. Upon stealing the bead, Tamatori cut herself open in order to hide the bead and swim faster than the pursuing ocean creatures. She made it to shore but died from her wounds - ultimately being interpreted as a warning of the cost of greed and a disharmony with nature.

Hokusai painted The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife in 1820, and while today the images may seem like extreme erotic animisms, audiences of the Edo period would have associated the images with the story of Tamatori. According to a scholarly paper by Danielle Talerico, the accompanying text suggests that while the diver died at odds with the sea, both Tamatori and the Octopi express mutual pleasure and enjoyment from the union.

In the centuries since, many artists have paid homage to Hokusai's work both in style and narrative.

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