Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
||+ Seal B
[For illustration of seals listed by seal code letter, see the Seals article.
For edition and dating characteristics applicable to the entire series, see the Editions article.]
Indentification of this design as number 115 is original to Rakusan who designated this woodblock print as the 115th design published in his main sequence.
However, 115 is actually the fifteenth of thirty-six woodblock prints in Rakusan's second main sequence series,
篁子生画選, Koushisei Gasen
, lit. 'Koshisei's Selected Prints' (usually called here the 36 Series
The woodblock print of 115 was adapted from an actual-size original painting on silk.
All of the original prototype paintings for this series are currently in a single private collection.
[Images of this painting 115-0 will eventually be posted here.]
Like most 36 Series designs 115 has the same signature and seal combination on every copy.
Therefore, for 115 only a single extended edition I (which includes potential reprintings both before and after World War II) can be distinguished.
It is usually only possible to date an individual loose print of 115 with edition I markings by listing approximate potential ranges of 1934-1941 and 1948-1955.
Edition I of 115 is known in two color morphs (a) and (b). Almost all copies of 115 are like the example illustrated above which is typical of morph 115 (b). Because so few copies of morph 115 (a) are documented, it is likely that it represents a single print run experiment. The chief difference in morph 115 (a) is the addition of gold ink highlights to some of the leaves, including one round spot on the left side of the lower center leaf. Because the original painting prototype has similar pale highlights, it is suggested that morph 115 (a) is the first variation which Rakusan simplified in following printings. [Examples not yet illustrated.]
The earliest 36 Series prints were delivered tipped into recessed wells of presentation sheets embossed in their lower margins with the series title.
Because all early edition I prints once had these presentation sheets, a copy which retains its presentation sheet must have been printed during the 1930s.
After his supply of presentation sheets was exhausted, Rakusan distributed subsequently-reprinted copies loose.
A limited number of leftover earlier-printed copies of some designs on presentation sheets were still being distributed shortly after World War II, but by then most designs were only available as loose sheets.
However, absence of presentation sheets is not diagnostic of later printings because many early prints have subsequently been detached from theirs.
Copies of both morphs 115 (a) and 115 (b) have been preserved with presentation sheets indicating that the color differences are edition I morphs rather than different editions.
The Rakusan project which produced 篁子生画選, Koushisei Gasen
, resulted in two related series of woodblock prints.
Each print of the 36 Series
is intimately connected to a group of prints with the same subjects in the Fan Series
Together these subject-related prints in the two series constitute a theme.
Each theme consists of a quintet of monochrome Fan Series
designs (one design in each of the five fan shapes), plus one polychrome,
design which illustrates the theme subject.
The theme is labeled here by the original Rakusan number of its 36 Series
design followed by the subject.
115 is the 36 Series
design of the 115 Dahlia
The 115 Dahlia theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print. Three of the five Fan Series designs have seal C which indicates carving dates between the last months of 1933 and the end of the first quarter of 1934. However, the 36 Series design 115 and the other two Fan Series designs have seal B which indicates a later carving period closer to the time of publication.
The Fan Series and the 36 Series prints of the 115 Dahlia theme were distributed in mid 1934 in installment five (of twelve).
The delivery documents for installment five remain to be discovered, but its delivery month was either July or August 1934. The woodblock prints would have been printed earlier in the same month as their distribution.
Some of the dahlia designs were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s for design 94 of the earlier 100 Series (see below).
115 is especially close to 94 since both designs include the same variety of dahlia in the same two colors and patterns, together with the same insect.
However, because the fan designs include other varieties of dahlia, it is evident that the subject of the 115 Dahlia theme is dahlias in general and not any particular variety.
Garden Dahlia (Dahlia
) hybrids are very popular introduced ornamental plants in Japan, and many new varieties and forms have been developed by Japanese horticulturalists.
Dahlia tubers cannot survive cold winters and are typically dug up, stored, and replanted each year.
Therefore dahlias only occur in carefully tended garden settings, and are often supported with bamboo stakes.
The Western name has been variously borrowed into Japanese as だりや, ダリヤ, dariya; ダリア, daria; ダーリヤ, daariya; and ダーリア, daaria.
Rakusan invariably used the dariya spelling (だりや in handwriting and ダリヤ in machine-printing, as on the folio).
However, modern botanical practice is to use ダリア, daria. (In writing a foreign word, katakana is always preferred today.)
An older name was 天竺牡丹, tenjiku-botan, lit. 'Indian treepeony' (referring to India, although the plants are originally Central American).
Japanese ぽんぽん, ポンポン, ponpon, is borrowed from the flower form name pompon used in several Western languages.
The large insect is clearly a member of the grasshopper family Acrididae.
It is probably the Oriental Long-headed Locust, Acrida cinerea, 精霊飛蝗, しょうりょうばった, ショウリョウバッタ, shouryou-batta, lit. 'spirit-locust', a common Japanese species.
Rakusan has used the same sort of insect in several different designs.