JAPANESE PRINTS

A MILLION QUESTIONS

TWO MILLION MYSTERIES

 

Ukiyo-e Prints

浮世絵版画

Port Townsend, Washington

 

TOYOHARA CHIKANOBU

豊原周延

とよはら.ちかのぶ

1838-1912

Series: Nijūshikō Mitate Awase

二十四番見立画合

 Print Subject: Gomō

 呉猛

 ごもう

Publisher: Possibly Hasegawa Tōjiro

 Date: 1891

Meiji 24

 明治 24年

 Size: 14" x 9 1/4"

Unsigned

 Carver: Possibly Hori Asakura

$145.00

SOLD!

 

 

     
   
     

 

IT'S ALL IN THE FAMILY

Chikanobu was a student of Kunichika who was a student of Kunisada who was a student of Toyokuni I.

The image above is a detail from a print by Kuniyoshi who was also a student of Toyokuni I.

So, I guess you could say that Kuniyoshi is artistically Chikanobu's great-uncle.

It's all in the family!

 

The Kuniyoshi image of Gomō fanning his father to keep the mosquitoes at bay

dates from 1848-51 or forty plus years before the print by Chikanobu. In the detail

shown at the top of the print featured on this page the young boy has rested exhausted

with the fan lying on the table in front of him. In the main body of the print the

mother hold the fan as if merely to cool the air around her and her child.

(See the details shown below)

 

     
   
     
     
   
     

 

 

E-KYŌDAI

絵兄弟

えきょうだい

 

This print is not only a mitate (見立), a comparison, a parody, as can be seen from the title, but also an e-kyōdai or 'sibling picture' in which the main image is a mimic of a smaller inset generally seen above. Notice the two little boys and the smoke intended to ward off mosquitoes prominent in both. Both images take place during the summer which is indicated by the clothing or lack thereof and the insects. However, while the boy at the top lives with his elderly father in poverty in a ramshackle hut  the one at the bottom would seem to live in some comfort. Notice the lamp, the cricket cage, his elegant mother's comfortable

attire.

 

See our entry on e-kyōdai on our De thru Forty-seven

index/glossary page for more examples of this genre

 

The furin is a wind chime which is another visual give away that summer is the season being represented.

 

 

And then there is the insect cage or mushikago (虫籠 or むしかご).

 

 

 

     
   
     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE T'AO T'IEH

饕餮

TŌTETSU

とうてつ

 

The red and green banner seen at the top of this print plays several roles. It is both decorative and culturally and historically significant. What would appear to most people as simply a patterned design has a rich and wonderful history of somewhat mysterious origin and interpretation. The Chinese term t'ao t'ieh refers to the most prominent motif on Shang dynasty (商朝) bronzes (1766-1123 B.C.E.) It displays a creature which even enthralled Borges. He described it as having an enormous head attached to two bodies which trail off to its right and its left. It has legs, fangs, occasionally prominent ears, but no lower jaw. Some scholars believe it was meant to scare off evil spirits and others link it to the evolution of the dragon motif. A proto-dragon if you like.

 

It is also closely integrated to the concepts of greed, gluttony and covetousness. Often displayed on plates it was meant as a reminder to the consumer that moderation is a good thing.

 

The placement of this red and green strip on this print is not accidental or casual. It floats above the scene of the young boy Wu Meng who is letting the mosquitoes bite him so they won't attack his elderly father. He did this every night during the summer and this is regarded as one of the great acts of filial piety.

 

 

 

 

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