Kō Sūkei, Shrine Festival, a hanging scroll painting


British Museum

British Museum

A tree is being carried along in a large basket, suspended from poles carried on several men's shoulders. Its branches are festooned with gohei (strips of white paper which symbolize sacredness in the native Japanese religion, Shintō), resembling flowers. Most of the crowd of men around the tree are wearing eboshi hats and suikan (loose white jackets). The two leaders are wearing kamishimo (old-style ceremonial dress) and are carrying two swords each. This is all typical dress for a festival or sacred rite. Sūkei has given the men a great variety of postures and expressions, helping to convey the sense of growing excitement and anticipation among the participants.

Sūkei (1760-1817) belonged to the Hanabusa school, which was started by Hanabusa Itchō (1652-1724) as a more populist branch of the academic Kanō school. Sūkei maintained the clever, unconventional style of the school, as well as its high technical quality. The exaggerated and distinctive method of depicting figures seen here had its origins in Itchō's work.

The signature reads 'Kō Sūkei', and the seal reads 'Nobuyoshi no in' ('Seal of Nobuyoshi'). Nobuyoshi was the artist's given name.

Show lessRead more


  • Title: Kō Sūkei, Shrine Festival, a hanging scroll painting
  • Date Created: 1790/1817
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 95.20cm; Width: 44.70cm; Height: 195.00cm (mount); Width: 65.00cm (mount)
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: painted
  • Subject: festival
  • Registration number: 1881,1210,0.1732
  • Production place: Painted in Japan
  • Producer: Painted by Ko Sukei
  • Period/culture: Edo Period
  • Material: silk
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Purchased from Anderson, William