Tuesday, February 26, 2013
The Farmer and the Poor God
The Farmer and the Poor God: a Folktale From Japan Retold by Ruth Wells. Illus. by Yoshi, 1996.
This is the tale of a somewhat deluded, somewhat lazy farmer and his family who rue their luck and figure that they must have a Poor God. This is actually true, they do have a Poor God or Bimbogami, who lives in their attic and likes the family. When the farmer plans to move his people away to escape their bad luck, the Poor God intends to go too, and sets about making sandals for the journey. No one leaves, but the Poor God goes right on making beautiful sandals. Soon, the family finds this is something that they can do also, and they become happier and better off. Laughing replaces squabbling and singing does away with worry. They find they've come to love their own Poor God and wouldn't trade him for another.
Yoshi's art for The Farmer and the Poor God is painted dyes on silk. She uses lots of rich colors like emerald green, bronze and deep blue. The texture of the material is visible through the paintings, making the art extra interesting. The Poor God looks like an ordinary but raggedy old man. The scene where the fat, jolly (Buddha-like) Rich God is driven away from the hut is an amusing one, with the farmer menacing him with his shoe, his wife tossing a bucket full of water and the family cat pouncing from the door frame.