Original Japanese Woodblock Illustrations,18th Century, Edo Period, 2 Volumes


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Original Japanese Woodblock, 18thC, Edo Period, 2 Volumes. 90 pages. 86 full-page woodblock print illustrations. 26.5 x 18.5cm. Bound in blue stiff-paper covers, strings loose on one volume, worming to the outer margins effecting six leaf's, covers worn and faded with staining, majority of pages unmarked and clean. A wonderful and unique pair.

Two beautiful woodblock print books from Japan, wonderful examples of Edo Period art in the ukiyo-e style. There are a variety of themes explored, a number portray mythological scenes, as well the traditional rural landscapes associated with this era.

Several prints feature a Kirin, a hooved chimerical creature that appears in Chinese mythology. Japanese art tends to depict the Kirin as more deer-like than in Chinese expressions, as seen in these artists renditions. The Kirin is thought of as good omen, that brings prosperity or serenity. It is often depicted in a fiery form, and sometimes called the 'Chinese unicorn' when compared with the Western notion of the unicorn. According to ancient Taoist lore, although they may appear frightening, these beings only punish the wicked. The Kirin is said to have the body of a deer, the tail of an ox, the hooves of a horse, a body covered with the scales of a fish, and a single horn. It lives in a paradisal realm and personifies all that is good, pure, and peaceful. It can live to be 1,000 years old.

A woodblock print image is first designed by the artist on paper and then transferred to a thin, partly transparent paper. Following the lines on the paper, now pasted to a wooden block usually of cherry wood, the carver chisels and cuts to create the original in negative; with the lines and areas to be coloured raised in relief. Ink is applied to the surface of the woodblock. Rubbing a round pad over the back of a piece of paper laid over the top of the inked board makes a print.