"Night Parade Of Dead Souls", the first book of its kind to be published in English, collects 70 of the most striking and disturbing Japanese ghost images from classic art, and offers an essential glimpse into the twilight strata of Japanese art, popular myth, and religious belief. The artists featured range from obscure painters to the venerated ukiyo-e artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, who created numerous ghost paintings around 1880. All the paintings, which range in date from 1750 to the early 20th century, are shown at full-page length, and in full colour throughout.
The Ukiyo-e Master Series: presenting seminal collections of art by the greatest print-designers and painters of Edo-period and Meiji-period Japan.
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The female ghost or yurei (literally, "faded spirit") is perhaps the most recognizable figure in Japanese horror culture, and appears in several differing types; the cat-ghost vampire, the seductress ghost who initiates a post-death love affair with a living human, the ubume or mother ghost who died leaving her children behind and returns to care for them, the yuki-onna or snow-lady, and numerous others. But the over-riding archetype of the female ghost in Japan remains the lethal revenant who suffered badly in life or was murdered by their lover, and whose powerful emotions of jealousy, sorrow, or rage at the moment of death brings them to seek terrible revenge. This last phantom is the one made known globally at the turn of the 20th century through the success of Japanese ghost films such as Ringu ("The Ring") and Ju-On ("The Grudge"). Their traditional appearance long black hair in disarray over the face, white skin and white burial clothing goes back to the very first painted scroll images (yurei-ga) of such creatures, of which the prototype is said to be Maruyama Okyo's painting of the ghost of Oyuki, from 1750. The only difference with cinematic yurei and the yurei of traditional art is that the latter generally have no lower limbs, symbolising their disconnection with corporeality.
One of Japan's most famous yurei is Oiwa, who appears in Yotsuya Kaidan ("Ghost Story of Yotsuya"), a story written first as a play in 1825 and later adapted for kabuki theatre and a host of films. Oiwa, poisoned and disfigured by her treacherous husband Iemon, has been depicted by many painters and ukiyo-e artists as her ghost emerges from a lantern to take violent revenge. Another famous female ghost is Okiku, a maid who breaks one of the ten gilded plates that are the legacy of the treasure house of Aoyama, and is punished by death. Her vengeful spirit emerges night after night from the well where she was drowned, counting the plates in a hideous voice until Aoyama is driven to commit suicide.
Oyuki, Oiwa and Okiku were the prototypes for a slew of female yurei in painting, mainly found in the years from 1750 to the end of the Meiji period and early Taisho period, and growing ever more gruesome and bizarre in appearance as the years progressed. From the severed heads of victims favoured by Kyosai to the extreme facial disfigurement displayed in such startling works as a startling portrait of Oiwa by the unknown artist of Dainenbutsu .......