A lot on display at MFA’s sumo exhibit

Stomp. Stomp. Thud. Yeah!

That’s the sound of a sumo wrestling match.

Now sumo wrestling can be seen at the Museum of Fine Arts in an exhibit, “Sumo: Japan’s Big Sport,’’ through Aug. 3.

Sumo wrestling is the most famous and popular sport in Japan, featuring two fat guys in little outfits. The object of the match is for the wrestlers to either knock their opponent out of a ring or get him to touch the ground with his upper body.

The MFA has 50,000 pieces of Japanese art, enough to have changing exhibits every nine months for 30 years. To put the exhibit together, MFA research assistants Abraham Schroeder, Quintana Heathman, and others had a lot of choices to make.

The MFA also had to borrow from other museums, get items on eBay, and one of the employees even bought wrestler’s hand prints.

The exhibit shows sumo from hundreds of years ago through today, the Sumo wrestling is shown in many ways in the exhibit.

A visitor will find trading cards, post cards, video, sculpture, paintings, and woodblock prints, which were made by putting each color on a different piece of wood and then placing it, color by color, on the paper

The works are arranged by category, such as sumo in everyday life, fantasy scenes (a print from the 1770s by Kitao Shigemasa shows Kintaro judging a wrestling match between a monkey and a bear), and famous sumo wrestlers and matches.

Some of the interesting works include:

* Poetry sumo is a poetry competition arranged like a sumo match. The poets – all named in the picture — are in a sumo wrestling stadium basically fighting about whose poem is better with the head poet acting like the referee.

* A woodblock print of kids sumo wrestling.

* Three woodblock prints by Utagawa Kunisada from 1857.

One painting was ripped, but the MFA has a team of specialists working in the basement that restores damaged pieces of art. Even on close inspection, it was hard to tell that it was ripped.

(Story reported and written by Cunniff Kids News staff reporters Kaitie M., Charlotte V., Shannon M., Ryan O., Renee S., Isabella V., Julia F., and Ryan L.)

(For more information on “Sumo: Japan’s Big Sport” at the Museum of Fine Arts, go to http://www.mfa.org/exhibitions/sub.asp?key=15&subkey=5005. To see a sample of the works on display, go to http://www.mfa.org/tours/package.asp?key=837)

–April 9, 2008–