The art of grappling, i4u Museum announces special exhibition of an important 16th Century Japanese painting of Sumo wrestling

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A 16th Century Japanese hand scroll illustrating 36 sumo wrestling moves will be debuted by i4u Museum in May, 2006. All 36 sumo wrestling moves are displayed at the Online Museum with clearly digitized photos so that all viewers have the benefit of close-up study of each grappling move. Never before in history has classic Japanese sumo wrestling art been presented to the general public in such a close-up and vivid format, thanks to internet technologies.

A 16th Century Japanese hand scroll illustrating 36 sumo wrestling moves will be debuted by i4u Museum in May, 2006. This original ink line drawing of sumo grappling moves depicts the art of sumo wrestling with superb rendering of strength, movement, and tension between the two combatants. The rare and important ink on paper long hand scroll from the i4uuu Collection will be exhibited at i4u Museum in Taipei from May 5th, 2006 for two months. The online exhibition is ongoing at the Online Museum website http://www.asianartmuseum.org . All 36 sumo wrestling moves are displayed at the Online Museum with clearly digitized photos so that all viewers have the benefit of close-up study of each grappling move. Never before in history has classic Japanese sumo wrestling art been presented to the general public in such a close-up and vivid format, thanks to internet technologies.

Sumo is the traditional national sport of Japan. It has now surpassed baseball as the most popular sport in Japan. Sumo's popularity outside of Japan has also grown significantly due to the increasing number of foreign sumo wrestlers competing in Japan. One of the Grand Champion is a man called Akebono- a Hawaiian. Due to Akebono's success, more international competitors from far away places such as Mongolia and Russia are entering the ring and spread the popularity of sumo in their home countries.

Since the Japanese written records did not exist until the 8th century, it is difficult to know, aside from legend, exactly when Sumo first developed in Japan. However, ancient wall paintings indicate that its origins are very old indeed. In prehistoric times, Sumo appears to have been performed mainly as an agricultural ritual to pray for a good harvest and to seek protection against calamity; much like the Native Indians of North America and other cultures who have their own performances and rituals to show their appreciation to their gods. Over the years Sumo has become the favored sport of royalty in Japan, with one of its most famous patrons being Oda Nobunaga (1534-82), a major feudal lord. In February 1578, he assembled over 1,500 competitors from across the country for a tournament held at his castle. Many rules and regulations of the sumo sport were set during the Norbunaga feudal lord period.

The i4u Museum scroll must have been the product of 16th Century when Sumo was at its peak in popularity. The artist of the long scroll took great care in illustrating each grappling position with fine and precise ink lines. Each position was also defined by a name which is written on top of the drawing in old Japanese calligraphy. The extensive illustration of the 16th Century sumo moves allows sport historians to understand the sport in its earlier form. As for art historians, the scroll demonstrates the achievement of a skillful anonymous artist who employed spontaneous and firm ink lines to faithfully document the art of grappling in the 16th Century. Most extant Japanese art on sumo are limited to wood block print or Ukiyo-e by artist such as Saraku, Kunisada, and Kuniyoshi of 18th and 19th Centuries. Those Ukiyo-e prints depict sumo wrestlers with excessive weight. As the objective of the combating sumo wrestler is to push or toss his opponent out of the ring, weight of the wrestlers became a very important element for winning. Therefore, later sumo wrestlers after 17th Century use excessive body weight as a competitive advantages. As the 16th Century scroll demonstrates, earlier wrestlers relied on skill rather than weight to win the game. No other early sumo paintings of this early period has been published before. i4u Museum is excited to share this wonderful works of art as well as an important sport document with the world.

About i4u Museum

i4u Museum, also known as i4uuu collection Museum, is a museum established by the internet conglomerate, i4uuu Group. The i4uuu Collection consists of more than 2,000 important Asian art works collected in the past 20 years. The Collection is known for its holdings of Asian sculpture, East Asian painting and calligraphy, oriental ceramics and Zen/Buddhist art. Notable art works are original 13th Century Zen Mumonkan Manuscript, paintings by Toyo Sesshu (1420-1506), Kano Tanyu (1602-1674), Kano Motonobu (1476-1559), Tosa Mitsuoki (1617-1691), Li Ti (1162-1224), Li Kan (1240-1320), Mu Qi ( 14th Century) , Chinese bamboo brush holder by Zhu Sansong, and a massive Asuka Period (7th Century) bronze Buddha's hand. The Museum attained world fame in early 2005 when it announced the existence of the original 13th Century manuscript of the important Zen Buddhism book, Mumonkan or the Gateless Gate. The manuscripts is known as one of the rarest religious document in existence. The Museum website is http://www.asianartmuseum.org The Special exhibition Website is http://www.asianartmuseum.org All copyright and licensing issues should be directed to i4u Museum's worldwide exclusive licensing and merchandising representative, Museum Masters International http://www.museummasters.com

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Mary Jessen, Ph.D.
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