Category: Japanese Art
Artwork Panel: 29.4cm x 43.5cm ≈ 11½" x 17"
Silk/Brocade: 38.5cm x 103cm ≈ 15¼" x 40½"
Width at Wooden Knobs: 47.5cm ≈ 18¾"Information about caring for your wall scroll
The Female Samurai Hangaku
Close up view of the artwork mounted to this silk brocade wall scroll
This is a mechanically-printed reproduction of a very old Japanese woodblock print. This was made months ago, rather than centuries ago.
Original artist: Taiso, Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
Original woodblock was created in Japan, around 1885
Excerpt from Wikipedia about Hangaku-Jō:
The Jō were warriors, allies of the Taira clan, in Echigo Province (present-day Niigata Prefecture). They were defeated in the Genpei Wars, and lost most of their power. In 1201, together with her nephew Jō Sukemori, she raised an army in response to Sukemoto's attempt (the Kennin Uprising) to overthrow the Kamakura Shogunate. Hangaku and Sukenaga took a defensive position at a fort at Torisakayama under attack from Sasaki Moritsuna. Hangaku commanded 3,000 soldiers to defend against an army of 10,000 soldiers loyal to the Hōjō clan.
Ultimately she was wounded by an arrow and captured; the defenses then collapsed. Hangaku was taken to Kamakura. When she was presented to the shogun Minamoto no Yoriie, she met Asari Yoshitō, a warrior of the Kai Genji, who received the shogun's permission to marry her. They lived in Kai, where she is said to have had one daughter.
Contrary to popular belief, woodblock printing (and in a way, the first printing press) was invented in China. Both artwork and whole books were produced in China using the woodblock print technique. Much of this artwork and printed books made their way to Japan. Emulating the methods and adding to the style, Japanese artists took woodblock printing to the next level.
In Japan, wood block prints are known as or "Moku Hanga". Most were produced during the Edo period (1603–1867). To put that in prospective, that's from before what is now the USA was even a British colony, to just after the Civil War. Some artists continued creating prints into the early 1900s.
At that time, Japanese artists would create "template paintings" with detailed images of "everyday life" scenes of Japan. Some of these "everyday life" or (Ukiyo-e), which translates as "Floating World" images, depict battling Samurai, beheadings, and even prostitution. This leads you to believe that "everyday life", was rather exciting in ancient Japan. However, most Ukiyo-e prints were more tame scenes of everything from women washing clothes, to men writing poetry.
After creating the template, the artist would then have another artisan carve large blanks of wood with those images. The carved wood blocks were then given to yet another artisan, known as an "inker". The inker would then carefully apply wet ink or colorful paint to the various carved surfaces. A sheet of handmade paper was then pressed over the inked woodblock to create the final print. The process was laborious, but not as tedious as hand-painting hundreds of copies from scratch.
If this was an "original" Japanese woodblock print, dating back to the Edo period, the price would be anywhere from $800 to $20,000.
Just to be clear again: This is a reproduction.
The quality of this reproduction is very good, but a true expert will spot this as a reproduction after examining it for a few moments.
I use handmade kozo (mulberry) paper - the same kind of paper that Japanese woodblock print makers used centuries ago.
The pigment-based ink is archival and UV-resistant. The ink manufacturer claims that the giclée prints created with this ink will last 200 years if not in direct sunlight. I figure you'll get a lifetime of enjoyment if you take good care of this wall scroll. I spend hours making sure the colors are vibrant, and touching up areas that might be damaged or missing from the old original print. The result is very close to what the woodblock print would look like if you could go back in time to the Edo period, and buy it from the artist's studio in old Japan.
For years I tried to find a printer that could handle handmade xuan paper without wrinkling, jamming, or clogging print heads. After trying and buying several giclée printers that gave mixed results, I finally found the quality I was looking for in a HP DesignJet z6100 printer with a price tag of around $15000! However, it is a finicky printer that takes about 5 tries to load a sheet of handmade paper (the printer's sensors seem to hate the deckled edge of handmade paper, and often refuse to accept that the paper is loaded with no skew).
I have to use this printer in the USA to create the print, as I can't get a license for such a machine at my other studio in Beijing (The Chinese government fears that I will make counterfeit Chinese currency, or Pro-Democracy propaganda posters with it).
After carefully printing and inspecting this artwork, I sent the raw print on kozo paper to my workshop in Beijing where it was built into a handmade wall scroll. This makes it ready-to-hang (no expensive framing needed), and gives the whole piece a very traditional Asian look.
Because the artist of this piece passed away long ago, and the original artwork is over 100 years old, there is no copyright. However, in some cases, I have paid a license fee to the owner of the original Japanese woodblock print for access to create the digitized image. In a few cases, I bought original 200-year-old woodblock prints and drum-scanned it at high-resolution.
All of this effort on my part means you get a really beautiful Japanese woodblock print reproduction, for a very affordable price. I am not sure I will ever make a profit on these (I would need to charge about double this price if that was the goal), but I really like to make unique Asian artwork affordable and accessible to everyone.
This item was listed or modified
Sep 29th, 2016
Gary's random little things about China:
If you come to China, save your small change...
In Beijing, the government recently passed a law against charging money for using a public toilet.
However, in other cities and towns around China, expect to pay between 2-5 mao (about 3-5 cents) for the use.
Bring your own toilet paper, or expect to pay 5 mao for a small pack of tissue as you enter.
In my opinion, the best public toilet in all of China is at Tian'anmen Square.
This public restroom is not only clean, but also features its own gift shop.