Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
||+ Seal A
||+ Seal B
[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 29 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 29th 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 29 was in July 1930 (or perhaps slightly later) in installment 15 (of fifty).
Additional edition I printings of 29may have continued until 1933.
The copy illustrated here is typical of edition I.
No edition II reprintings of 29 are currently known.
Edition III reprintings of 29 can only be approximately dated from between 1948 and 1955.
The editions can be distinguished easily by color differences.
In edition I the background is a strong reddish tan in the upper area; lightening and shading into a pale green bokashi in the lower right.
In edition III the background is a pale yellow-beige covered with darker, grayish bokashi in the entire lower portion.
Rakusan considered 29 to be one of his best designs and included it in at least three formal presentation albums between 1935 and 1940.
29alt, a woodblock print of an alternate sketch of the same design subject was issued the month before the initial printing of 29 as a preview advertisement.
Copies in Public Collections:
Edition I: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA; (1951) 51.1745 [not illustrated online].
Arrowhead, Sagittaria trifolia
, 面高, 沢瀉, おもだか, オモダカ, omodaka
, is an aquatic perennial plant native to Japan.
It has starchy edible tubers used in traditional cuisine.
Rakusan shows the yellow-stamened white flowers with the three-pointed leaves characteristic of arrowhead rising above the water in the foreground.
Not mentioned in the title-caption in 29 is waterlily whose round, flat leaves are floating on the water surface at left and right.
The general name for any waterlily (genus Nymphaea) is 睡蓮, すいれん, スイレン, suiren.
It is also used as the species name for Pygmy Waterlily, Nymphaea tetragona. Another name for Pygmy Waterlily is , 未草, ひつじぐさ, ヒツジグサ, hitsuji-kusa. The small scale of the plant in 29 relative to the medaka suggests this species.
Also regularly not mentioned particularly is the unidentifiable split tree-trunk with attached bark floating in the water upon which the bird is standing.
Rakusan often includes mosses, algae, and lichen without listing them either.
Here they are represented as bright green patches on the tree bark which also cannot be further identified.
Painted Snipe, Rostratula benghalensis, is a water-loving species native to Japan.
Today the bird is called 玉鷸, 玉鴫, たましぎ, タマシギ, tama-shigi, lit. 'jewel shorebird'.
Interestingly, the species reverses gender roles, and the brightly colored bird shown in 29 is the female and not the plainer male.
The name Rakusan used, むしぎ, mu-shigi, is not in current use.
It is evidently also based on 鷸, 鴫, しぎ, シギ, shigi, a general name for many kinds of similar birds which may be translated as 'shorebird, sandpiper, snipe, etc.'.
However, the meaning of the first part of the name is ambiguous and uncertain.
Two distinctive kinds of freshwater fish are also included, but neither are mentioned in the title-caption:
Medaka (Japanese Killifish or Ricefish), Oryzias latipes, 目高, めだか, メダカ, medaka, although not a Japanese native, is common in Japanese waters and derives one of its English names from Japanese.
This rather small (2-4 cm long) native of Southeast Asia is amphidromous, meaning it moves between salt and freshwater at some point in its life.
It is commonly found in flooded rice fields in coastal Asia.
The medaka has been a popular pet in Japan since the 17th century, and it is hardy and easy to raise.
It varies from brown or yellow-gold in the wild to white, creamy-yellow, or orange in aquarium-bred individuals.
Medaka are often conventionally represented in Japanese art as seen from above and as little more than a line for the body and two dots for eyes.
Rakusan shows three of these little fish in the lower right corner of 29 where they are causing concentric ripples at the water surface.
Crucian Carp, Carassius carassius, 鮒, ふな, フナ, funa, are a larger native fish.
Rakusan shows four of these full-bodied carp at lower left in 29.
By illustrating the largish carp at a small scale and somewhat hazily, it gives the impression of their being at some depth in slightly murky water.