Signature and Seal Markings:
|Edition I (only edition):
||+ Seal C
[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 at least 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. In themes which contain duplicated fan shapes, one has been arbitrarily designated A and the other B.
120-4 indicates that this is a Fan Series design with fan shape 4 in the 120 Tea Flower theme. Like all other designs in this series, 120-4 was only produced in a single print run, and few copies are currently documented.
The Fan Series
delivery documents for installment six in September 1934 announced that tea flower designs would be published the following month. Those for installment seven confirm that the Fan Series
of the 120 Tea Flower
theme were printed during October 1934 and distributed October 15, 1934 as part of installment seven (of twelve). On both sets of delivery documents Rakusan used the theme subject title 茶の花, cha no hana
, 'tea flower' which is the original title of 36 Series
design 120 published at the same time.
The 120 Tea Flower theme includes only three fan designs, two less than the normal quintet, and is the smallest theme in the series.
There are designs for fan shapes 3, 4, and 5, but none for fan shapes 1 and 2.
Rakusan had originally planned the 120 Tea Flower theme to have its full complement of five designs.
From the signature and seal markings, it appears that Rakusan created 120-5 at the end of 1933, and the next two designs (120-3 and 120-4) shortly thereafter in the early part of 1934. Subsequently, he painted 120-0 as the model for the 36 Series design 120.
The tea flower fan designs were among several groups Rakusan then set aside, intending to complete each of them with additional designs later.
Although most such groups were indeed eventually infilled and published as regular themes, Rakusan modified his original plans for four of these incomplete groups.
He decided to assemble installment seven using existing designs only.
Since each installment was supposed to have three themes, two of the incomplete groups with four designs each (bamboo-grass and pine) were merged into a single compound theme with eight designs.
To this he added the three tea flower designs and the four nandina designs to make up the required installment total.
As a result, installment seven ended up with the advertised fifteen designs in three themes, but each of its themes, 119, 120, and 121, is exceptional; and none has a perfect quintet of designs.
At least some of the tea flower designs may have been adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of design 61 in the earlier 100 Series
(See links below.)
The woodblock print of 120-4 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:
120-4 as originally drawn (reconstruction)
Tea, Camellia (Thea) sinensis
, 茶, cha
, is an originally exotic shrub which is now a common agricultural crop in Japan.
Its leaves are harvested to make various kinds of tea.
The closely trimmed plants are often supported by bamboo stakes as shown in 61.
Tea plants typically flower in the winter months.