狹竹棠に赤胡錦鳥 (盛夏) [sic]

kyouchikutou ni akakokinchou (seika)

Oleander and Red-headed Gouldian Finches (Mid Summer)

キョウチクトウにアカコキンチョウ (盛夏)


Original Number

75


ADDITIONAL NOTES FOR THIS DESIGN
Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
Edition I: 楽山居 Raku-zan Kyo + Seal A

[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.]

Design History:
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 75 is original to Rakusan who published the print as the 75th 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 75 was in June 1932 (or perhaps slightly later) in installment thirty-eight (of fifty). Because this design appeared late in the series, 75 may not have been reprinted before the series completion in 1933, and only the initial print run of about 200 copies comprises edition I. The copy illustrated here is typical of edition I. No later edition printings of 75 are currently known.

About the time 75 was being prepared, Rakusan apparently had trouble communicating his designs to whomever was to carve the blocks. Several designs from this period show significant areas which were either not inked, or inked in the incorrect colors. In the top center of 75 there are at least a half dozen such areas, and there are a few more in the lower right.

Species Illustrated:
Oleander (Rose Laurel, Rosebay), Nerium (oleander) indicum, 夾竹桃, きょうちくとう, キョウチクトウ, kyou-chiku-tou, lit. 'foreign-bamboo-peach' is an exotic decorative shrub widely planted worldwide. Instead of 夾竹桃, Rakusan wrote 狹竹棠 (which would be read the same way, but is not currently accepted in the meaning 'oleander'). The third kanji in each rendition refers to a kind of flowering fruit tree and can be read with the same pronunciation: 棠 tou, yamanashi 'crabapple, wild pear'; and 桃 tou, momo 'peach'. It appears that Rakusan was familiar with the name of the plant, but not with its kanji spelling. With modern usage of kana for species names the issue becomes moot.

Gouldian Finch, Erythrura (Chloebia) gouldiae, 胡錦鳥, こぎんちょう, コキンチョウ, ko-kin-chou, lit. 'foreign brocade-bird' is a northern Australian finch. These little birds are commonly bred for the pet trade, and popular captive varieties with red, black, or yellow faces have been stablized. Rakusan correctly identified these birds as the red variety by using the descriptor 赤 aka, 'red', which here means 'red(-headed)'. The two females have more black on their heads than the two males. Rakusan would have seen these exotic birds only as cage or aviary specimens.

Rakusan apparently misinterpreted the species-particular name for the Gouldian Finch as a general name for any small, colorful finch. He incorrectly applied this name also to Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, Lonchura castaneothorax in the title-caption for design number 72 in this series.


Related Designs: