«If disease spreads, draw a picture of me and show it as soon as possible to those who fall ill [and they will be cured]» (もし疫病が流行することがあれば、私の姿を描いた絵を人々に早々に見せよ). These are the words that, according to legend, were spoken by the amabie (アマビエ) mermaid that appeared in the sea of the ancient Higo Province (肥後国).
It is said that, in mid-May of the year 1846, a glowing object had been spotted in the sea, almost on a nightly basis. An officer investigated and witnessed the appearance of the amabie. In this painting on shikishi (色紙) board, we see her depicted according to the indications of a sketch made by this official: long hair, a mouth like bird’s bill, covered with scales from the neck down and three-legged.
The work, made by Nishimura Kingyo (西村欣魚), an appreciated artist born in Nara (奈良市) in 1964 and graduated from the Kyoto City University of Arts (京都市立芸術大学), is in very good condition.