Fettered Hiten (飛天の柵, Hiten no shigarami), 1959
Gift of D. Lee Rich, P’78 ’80 and John Hubbard Rich, Jr., Class of 1939 Litt.D. 1974, P’78 ’80
Shikō Munakata most frequently worked in monochrome, often depicting Buddhist subjects in his blocky, rough-cut prints. He tended to work quickly, and believed in allowing the material quality of the woodblock to come through. Munakata embraced his nationality, stating “When an artist strives for universality, for the width of universal appreciation, he ends up without depth, with only the superficial aspects of beauty. I don’t want to be universal. I deplore alien borrowings. I want my work to be purely Japanese.” In 1959 the artist visited the United States, when he likely made this image. Representing a hiten, or a heavenly being of Buddhism, this work references a sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The text on the print expresses how Munakata was moved by the hiten figure, which was weathered and aged by the many places it experienced throughout its journey.