Collection Online

Sea creatures
(19th century)

colour and silver woodblock
21.4 × 18.7 cm (image and sheet)
Place/s of Execution
printed (in Japanese characters) (in image) l.r.: Hokkei
Accession Number
Asian Art
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Dr Leonard Cox, 1966
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of The Gordon Darling Foundation
Gallery location
Not on display
In this early nineteenth-century depiction of sea creatures, Toyota Hokkei shows an octopus and fish with impish, almost human faces. More than any other sea creature, the octopus (tako) is associated with human emotions and motivations, and is often seen in Japanese art representing humans reincarnated in their form. In folk law, octopuses are cast as healers, ghosts, lovers, subjects of ridicule, or vengeful creatures retaliating against the fisherman who have captured them.