Japanese Popular Prints: From Votive Slips to Playing Cards

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University of Hawaii Press, 2006 - Art - 208 pages
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In the West, Japanese woodblock printing tends to be associated with the ukiyo-e tradition and the familiar portrayals of kabuki actors or courtesan beauties. These well-known images were produced by a publisher and artist using the extraordinary skills of carvers and printers, whose identities are rarely known. The same craftsmen also produced woodblock-printed objects for use in everyday life such as decorative paper (chiyogami), votive slips (senjafuda), playing cards (karuta), and board games (sugoroku). As the market changed in the late nineteenth century, the craftsmen increasingly turned to the production of these low-value, essentially ephemeral objects. Although the prices were kept low, many were imbued with the same glorious visual sophistication that had attracted Westerners to ukiyo-e.

Approaching the subject as an artist rather than a print scholar, Rebecca Salter focuses on the craftsmen and the complex visual culture within which they worked. Through information gained from interviews with some of the remaining practitioners and analysis of the objects themselves, she builds up a picture of the quiet role woodblock played in the lives of the Japanese as they moved from the isolation of the Edo period to embrace modernization in the early twentieth century.

This book is a fascinating exploration of this area of cultural history and the numerous color illustrations encourage a playful investigation of the many threads of Japan s visual culture.

Rebecca Salter is a well-known British printmaker. She lived in Japan for six years and is an acknowledged authority on Japanese woodblock printing. She is the author of Japanese Woodblock Printing.

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Contents

history method context
2
A bnef history of pnnting in Japan
12
The woodblock technique
19
Edo society
23
The art of play
28
knowledge news views
40
Books
42
Calendars koyomi
47
Catfish pnnts namazue
108
Medicine pnnts baiyakue
114
Smallpox pnnts and measles pnnts riosoe and hashikae
120
Obituary pnnts shinie
125
leisure pleasure play
130
Playful pnnts and toy pnnts asobie and omochae
132
Board games sugoroku jurokumusashi and menko
164
Playing cards karuta
183

Programmes and lists banzuke and zukushi
51
Newssheets kawaraban and shinbun nishikie
58
The art of travel maps guides and gazetteers
62
Advertising hikifuda
70
The outside world Nagasakie Yokohamae and sayae
80
faith fortune general wellbeing
92
Votive slips and exchange slips senjafuda and kokanfuda
94
Decorative papers karakami chiyogami pochibukuro and futo
193
and finally
202
Artists outlines
204
Glossary
205
Selected bibliography
207
Index
208
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Rebecca Salter teaches at Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts, London.

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