Money Tree

金のなる気

Japanese
Edo period
1843–47 (Tenpô 14–Kôka 4)
Artist Shinsai Eishô (Japanese, active 1830s–1840s), Publisher Tsujiya Yasubei (Japanese)


Dimensions

Vertical ôban; 35.7 x 23.2 cm (14 1/16 x 9 1/8 in.)

Accession Number

11.36951

Medium or Technique

Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper

Not On View

Collections

Asia, Prints and Drawings

Classifications

Prints

In ukiyo-e prints, a money tree (kane no naru ki) is a good-luck symbol consisting of a tree with coins for leaves, and a trunk and branches made up of characters that spell out auspicious phrases all ending in the syllable “ki,” a pun on “tree.” Daikoku and Ebisu, the gods of prosperity (associated with rice and fish respectively) are usually shown beneath the tree.
In modern Japanese, the expression “money tree” (kane no naru ki) can refer either to an actual houseplant with coin-shaped leaves; or it can be a slang expression for a highly profitable business venture, corresponding to the English “cash cow.”

Signed

Shinsai Eishô ga

信斎英松画

Markings

Censor's seal
No blockcutter's mark

Provenance

By 1911, purchased by William Sturgis Bigelow (b. 1850–d. 1926), Boston [see note 1]; 1911, gift of Bigelow to the MFA. (Accession Date: January 19, 2005)

NOTES:
[1] Much of Bigelow's collection of Asian art was formed during his residence in Japan between 1882 and 1889, although he also made acquisitions in Europe and the United States. Bigelow deposited many of these objects at the MFA in 1890 before donating them to the Museum's collection at later dates.

Credit Line

William Sturgis Bigelow Collection