Saturday, April 08, 2006


After watching Tate selecting scorpions for his next tattoo, I have to admit that I've been wanting more ink. Sly had mentioned getting another, too. Sly wants her mon for her next tattoo. Sly's mon is a mitsudome. She wants the crest on her back, between her shoulderblades. This made me laugh pretty hard, becasue if a kimono has a mon in that location, that means it is semi-formal. So Sly's birthday suit would be semi-formal. Oh, it's funny, in a kimono-geek kind of way, trust me. I have a kimono from Sly that has her family crest on it, in the middle of the shoulders. Sly and her mom have been so kind as to allow me to wear their crest. I love that fact so much it makes me cry. I will post a picture of my most special kimono soon and tell you all about it. But I digress.

The picture I want, based on an "ukiyo-e" (Japanese woodblock print) print would have to be a backpiece. I gave up trying to describe the image and brought the book with the print into work to show people. Here's the print. You can click to see the larger version.

This is a woodblock print by Kuniyoshi of the Lady Hatsuhana in prayer under the Gongen waterfall at Hakone from the series Stories of wise women and faithful wives.

A quick summary of the story: Hatsuhana's husband had sworn revenge against his brother's killer. However, Hatsuhana's husband was badly wounded in a skirmish with the killer and was left unable to walk. Hatsuhana faithfully cared for him, even pulling him around in a wheeled cart. Seeing her husband so enraged at being helpless and unable to seek his sworn vengance, she went to Hakone to do ascetic penance under the pounding ice-cold water of the Tozen waterfall. Miraculously, her husband was cured and vengeance was wrought, but poor Hatsuhana died from her ordeal. Hatsuhana is held up as an example of martial fidelity and devotion as well as example of the fearlessness, fierceness, and selflessness of the Samurai wife.

I first saw the print in a book is called Heroes and Ghosts , a collection of woodblock prints by Kuniyoshi. Woodblocks are prints and are endeavors that began as Edo-era simple drawings and gradually developed into a complex printing process.

Kelly had asked if the process was done using one block, carved away as it was used for each color vice one block used for specifically for each color. In the case of ukiyo-e, it's one block for each color. Not only that, while the artist (such as Kuniyoshi) did the original drawing, he didn't necessarily carve or ink or do the other parts of the process himself. In fact, Japanese Printmaking is composed of the division of labor of many craftmen, such as painters, engravers and printers, and needs at least the same number of different woodblocks as colors, often more than twenty wood-blocks. At first, there was just a one color woodblock prints with brush-added color in the 1710s, then two or three colors wood-block prints evolved in the 1740s, and finally in the 1760s the multi-color wood-block prints called "nishiki-e" (brocade picture) was invented and continued to the early Meiji period in 1890s.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

HAHA, I am still skeptical. I mean, can you imagine the work?