Signature and Seal Markings:
|Edition I (only edition):
||+ Seal B
[For illustration of seals listed by seal code letter, see the Seals article.]
Series History and Definitions:
During the two years between mid 1933 and mid 1935 Rakusan produced a series of 180 individual woodblock-printed fan designs.
These fan designs are printed as negative images with a single impression of black ink.
Although all are actually woodblock prints, this traditional negative-image printing style is called 石摺(り), ishi-zuri
, lit. 'stone rubbing', from its superficial resemblance to that technique.
Rakusan called this series
篁子生石摺画選, Koushisei Ishizuri Gasen
, lit. 'Koushisei's Stone-rubbing Print Selection', but it is usually called here the Fan Series
Rakusan arranged the Fan Series prints into shared-subject groups typically consisting of one design in each of five different fan silhouette shapes.
Each of these groups of Fan Series designs are united by a corresponding polychrome 36 Series design which defines the subject.
Each shared-subject Fan Series group and its 36 Series design together comprise a theme (画題, gadai).
Rakusan did not include the Fan Series in his main sequence numbering.
Therefore, the original number used for each of the 36 Series prints has been modified to identify the Fan Series members of its theme.
The five different fan silhouette shapes have been here assigned arbitrary numbers 1 through 5.
To indicate a fan design these shape designations are added to the 36 Series number separated by a hyphen.
110-5 is the Fan Series design with fan shape 5 in the 110 Persimmon theme.
Like all other designs in this series, 110-5 was only produced in a single print run, and few copies are currently documented.
The 110 Persimmon
theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print.
The Fan Series
designs in the 110 Persimmon
theme were produced as woodblock prints in June 1934 and distributed June 25, 1934 in installment four (of twelve). On the installment delivery documents Rakusan used the theme subject title, 柿, kaki
The signature and seal markings and inconsistencies in style suggest that the 110 Persimmon designs were actually created over an extended period encompassing late 1933 into the middle of 1934.
This theme is unusual in that it includes designs with four different seals which were produced in at least three distinct carving periods.
110-5 is one of two fan designs in this theme with later seal B (which also appears in the 36 Series design 110).
Fan designs with seal B were typically used to infill quintets whose other designs had been carved in previous seal use periods.
The relatively early distribution of the 110 Persimmon theme fan designs means that 110-5 (and the other seal B designs in this theme) would have been completed only shortly before publication.
At least some persimmon designs were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of design 19 of the earlier 100 Series (see below).
The composition of 110-5 is an unusual hybrid of two very distinct styles. The relatively crude larger branch with a sparrow preening itself is superimposed by a persimmon branch executed in perfect negative imagery. In fact the motif of the sparrow and larger branch is borrowed exactly from the work of another artist. In order to have the source design fit the 110 Persimmon
theme, Rakusan omitted the original leaves and smaller branches and added his own separate persimmon branch.
The woodblock print of 110-5 was modeled closely on an actual-size original sumi sketch which although lost can be reconstructed by digitally reversing the image of the woodblock print:
110-5 as originally drawn (reconstruction)
Rakusan completed each of the three themes in installment four with a single design taken from an outside source, Ten Bamboo Studio Manual of Painting,
十竹斎書画譜, Jitchikusai Shogafu.
Here abbreviated TBS, this very famous, historic, and influential design book was first printed in China in the 17th century.
TBS has been reproduced and reprinted in both China and Japan many times since, and
Rakusan would likely have used one of the later Japanese translations.
The borrowed sparrow and large branch in 110-5 are taken directly from the TBS design shown below:
model for 110-5 (from TBS part 3 Birds)
(Japanese) Persimmon, Diospyros kaki
, 柿, かき, カキ, kaki
, is a familiar fruit tree now widely planted around the world.
Despite the name, the tree is native to China, but it has been bred into several popular commercial varieties in Japan where it was an early introduction.
The persimmon fruit is very astringent and is not eaten until it is overripe and sweet.
Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Passer montanus, is today written in Japanese ornithological texts as スズメ, suzume, where it refers only to this species.
However, popular usage, 雀, suzume, remains a very common general name for any sort of small sparrow or sparrow-like bird in modern Japanese.