Category: Japanese Art
Artwork Panel: 31.5cm x 69.8cm ≈ 12½" x 27½"
Silk/Brocade: 40.6cm x 128cm ≈ 16" x 50¼"
Width at Wooden Knobs: 49.6cm ≈ 19½"Information about caring for your wall scroll
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. This reproduction is actually 4x bigger than the original by area (twice the width and twice the length) which makes a bigger/better presentation to enjoy in your home.
Original artist: Ippitsusai Bunchō (1725-1794).
Original woodblock was created in Japan, Meiwa era, within the Edo period, around 1769.
This features the actress Segawa Kikunojō holding an umbrella. There were seven generations of actresses who took the stage name Segawa Kikunojō. Based on the date the woodblock was made, presume this depicts the actor Segawa Kikunojô II, who held this name from the 11th lunar month of 1756 to the 3rd lunar month of 1773.
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
Aug 14th, 2016
Gary's random little things about China:
When you sit down to eat at a restaurant in China, you will almost never see a bottle of soy sauce on the table like you might at a Chinese restaurant in the USA or UK.
In Chinese cooking culture, soy sauce is a seasoning reserved for use in the kitchen.
The fact that soy sauce can be found at Chinese restaurants outside of China probably comes from westerner confusion between Japanese food and Chinese food.
The most popular Japanese food outside of Japan is sushi, which of course is always served with soy sauce. This is the most likely reason that soy sauce migrated out of the kitchen on onto the table at your Chinese restaurant in the west.