japonisme: a happy interdependence day to us all

04 July 2008

a happy interdependence day to us all

  Stars, still pond —
all night the white geese cry out
in your hand.

Coming, my eyes open.
How suddenly black
the tree trunks look in the rain.
Night quiets, cools.
Even now,
two boats on a single mooring,

we rise and fall on one breath, going on.

Because Tokugawa-period Japanese tended to regard the overall body shapes of men and women as nearly the same, the only significant physical marker of difference were the organs themselves.

By the 1660s, the first mass- produced woodblock prints began to appear, often in the form of pages illustrating of handbooks on .... We should bear in mind that these illustrated manuals were perfectly legitimate books in their day.

As has been pointed out, "these spring painting must be regarded in the light of seventeenth-century Japanese life and mores. --was considered a very natural function, and ways of increasing enjoyment of this function were felt to be more commendable than censurable."

Unlike the case in Europe, Japanese artists did not celebrate the figure in their work in any medium until the late Meiji period. Japanese popular art of the eighteenth century, detailed polychrome prints of famous beautiful women -- usually courtesans -- were much in demand. These prints emphasized the subtle, often elaborate facial features, gestures, long hair, and richly decorated clothing of these women to convey a sense of  beauty and power.

Its beak caught firmly
in the clam's shell

The snipe cannot fly away
On an autumn eveningUNKNOWN JAPANESE POET
"Few peoples," says Lane, "have ever pursued the cult of artistic spring painting as assiduously as the Japanese." (Images from the Floating World)

Tokugawa-period woodblock prints are generally called ukiyo-e 浮世絵, meaning "images of the floating world." Many people incorrectly think that the term ukiyo-e means spring painting images, probably because so many ukiyo-e were spring painting. But ukiyo-e encompass landscape scenes and a wide variety of non-spring painting themes.

Spring painting woodblock prints were most commonly known as spring painting春画, meaning "spring pictures." The word "spring" often means "youthful beauty" or "youthful vigor" in Japanese usage then or now. The sale of services, for example, is baishun 売春, "selling spring," which has a different emotive sense than the English term "prostitution." Similarly, the word "color" (iro 色 by itself, -shoku -色 in many compound words) often means spring painting or spring painting. (more)

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Anonymous harlequinpan said...

Beautiful woodblock prints .i think this is also the source of inspiration for most artists.

06 July, 2008 03:14  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

not just artists.... -- unless we are all artists

06 July, 2008 07:58  
Blogger cbb said...

The notion of Interdependence Day gave me a good chuckle - thank you! I'm really struck in this series with the fact that there seemed to be no social repressive forces at play here. Do you know whether there was a similarly non-repressive view of homosexual erotica? I'm curious about how cultural differences might affect these mores...

08 July, 2008 23:15  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

i got "interdependence day" from an emailing from a woman who does marketing emails about once a week for her store that sells discounted lines of clothes, like cirtron--she gets good stuff.

doesn't sell online, nor does she have a website!

09 July, 2008 11:36  
Blogger Roxana said...

it is very intersting that Hokusai's print, Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, has been interpreted by western eyes as a rape - and this travelled back to japan so that nowadays they have pornographic anime series about "tentacle rapes". even if the story is actually a legend which has nothing to do with rape... and I find the print so beautiful... as the others that you showed, us, green lotus...

10 July, 2008 09:23  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

oh yeah, those octopi have such bad reputations. i know that whenever i see one coming down the street i cross to the other side.

yeah, i love it, and all of the images it has inspired. teraoka's certainly apear to be consensual.

what's the legend?

10 July, 2008 10:21  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

oh and cbb-- yes, though one comes across gay shunga as well, with the identical vibe, there's nowhere near the amount.

apparently there were eras of repression (here we call them election years), when nobody signed their work (and when some artists had their lives ruined), but the sense i get was that they were few and far between, and this this work was generally not considered a completely separate genre from other ukiyo-e.

10 July, 2008 10:24  
Blogger Roxana said...

I don't know much about the legend, this might be interesting:

14 July, 2008 13:41  
Blogger Dominic Bugatto said...

Really strong pieces. Decorative , erotic and provocative.

14 July, 2008 19:28  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

very interesting -- thank you roxy. great referal.

thanks dom --

15 July, 2008 12:00  

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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