Earthquake and Fire (Daishin shukka): A Money Tree
「大震 出火」 （金のなる木） （鯰絵）
about 1855 (Ansei 2)
Artist Unknown, Japanese
Tomizawa, Nishiki-e no chikara (2005), chart 4, #112, photo p. 95; Inagaki, Edo no asobi-e (1988), #178
Vertical ôban; 35.2 x 24.2 cm (13 7/8 x 9 1/2 in.)
Medium or Technique
Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper
Not On View
MFA impressions: 11.29507.24, 11.35955, 11.38576, 11.42060
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.
This print is a parody referring to the great earthquake of 1855 and the profits made from rebuilding afterward, described in the phrases that make up the branches (transcribed in Inagaki, Edo no asobi-e, p. 122). The god Ebisu is replaced by the Kashima deity holding the earthquake catfish, and Daikoku’s place is taken by a smiling figure representing the firefighters and construction workers who have profited financially from the disaster.
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)
 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.
William Sturgis Bigelow Collection