Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
||+ Seal A
||+ Seal F
[For illustration of seals listed by seal code letter, see the Seals article.
For edition characteristics applicable to this series as a whole, see the Edition article.]
This woodblock print was produced from an original painting on silk dating from the late 1920s whose current location is unknown.
The indentification of this design as number 15 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 15th design in his series of one hundred woodblock prints called 楽山花鳥畫譜, Rakuzan Kachou Gafu
, lit. 'Rakusan's Flower and Bird Print Series'.
Initial edition I publication of 15 was in December 1929 (or perhaps slightly later) in installment eight (of fifty).
However, additional edition I printings of 15 may have continued until 1933.
The copy illustrated here is typical of edition I.
Edition II reprintings of 15 can only be approximately dated from between 1936 and 1941.
No edition III reprintings of 15 are currently known.
For several reasons 15 is one of the most exceptional designs in this series.
There is good evidence that the order in which the designs were published varied significantly from the order in which they were created, and also from Rakusan's originally intended order of publication.
No final placement is more anomalous than that of 15.
It was published in the middle of a subset of designs which bear seal G and the Raku-zan Kyo signature, and 15 would have been expected to share those markings.
Instead it bears seal A which otherwise first appears in this series with design 20 in February 1930, together with a signature form which otherwise first appears in this series with design 79 in August 1932, more than two years later.
For as yet unknown reasons, Rakusan decided to bump 15 out of its original order and to publish it early.
15alt, a woodblock print of an alternate sketch of the same design subject was issued the month before the initial printing of 15 as a preview advertisement (see Related Designs below).
Copies in Public Collections:
Edition I: Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, HI, USA; (1938) 10998 [illustrated online]
15 is only one of three designs in this series which has no botanical element.
Red-crowned (Japanese) Crane, Grus japonensis, 丹頂(鶴), たんちょう(づる), タンチョウ(ヅル), tanchou (zuru), lit. 'red-cap(-crane)', is an iconic Japanese native.
It can also be called simply 鶴, づる, ヅル, tsuru, which is also used as a general name for any crane.
The Red-crowned Crane is very important in Japanese culture and has many other names.
Rakusan shows an adult bird with two still-downy chicks.
Because both parents look much alike and share parental duties, the adult could be either male or female.
Although 15 is among the most popular Rakusan designs, it is also the most frequently misidentified.
Although clearly labeled as a crane in the title-caption, it is often mistakenly referred to as a 'stork', 'goose', or 'swan' by persons unfamiliar with written Japanese and/or birds.
No doubt much of the confusion results from Rakusan's decision to illustrate all of the birds in this series at near life-size.
A very large species such as the crane could only be accommodated within the available space by contorting the pose and by truncating portions of the bird.