Edition I Morph 130 (a)
Edition I Morph 130 (b)
Edition I Morph 130 (c)

[modernly supplied title]


yamazakura ni ooruri

Hill Cherry and Blue-and-White Flycatcher


Original Number / 原番号


Theme Identification / 画題識別

130 Cherry Theme

Currently Documented Edition Signature and Seal Markings:
Edition I: 楽山篁子生 Raku-zan Kou-shi-sei + Seal C

[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.]

Print History:
Indentification of this design as number 130 is original to Rakusan who designated this woodblock print as the 130th design published in his main sequence. However, 130 is actually the thirtieth of thirty-six woodblock prints in Rakusan's second main sequence series, 篁子生画選, Koushisei Gasen, lit. 'Koushisei's Print Selections' (usually called here the 36 Series).

The woodblock print of 130 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 130-0 will eventually be posted here.]

Like most 36 Series designs 130 has the same signature and seal combination on every copy. Therefore, 130 may be considered to have only a single extended edition I with approximate potential ranges of 1935-1941 and 1948-1955 (which includes reprintings both before and after World War II).

There are three main color morphs: 130 (a), 130 (b), and 130 (c). The very similar morphs differ primarily in the color of the woodblock-printed background and in the colors of the cherry blossoms, but there are also other subtle differences. The background of 130 (a) is a pale butter-yellow, and that of 130 (b) and 130 (c) (and of the original painting 130-0) is a pale dove-gray. In addition 130 (c) has a slightly darker gray bokashi shading at the bottom. The cherry blossoms in 130 (a) are typically quite pink (as shown in the example above). In 130 (b) the pinks in the flowers are paler and less extensive. In some copies of 130 (b), and in all known copies of 130 (c), the flowers are nearly white. It is unclear if these paler copies of are examples of fading or are from different print runs using originally paler colors.

About half of the currently documented copies of 130 are the 130 (a) version. Unfortunately, this copies of this morph typically have an unusually high number of flaws. Several of the 130 (a) prints show brownish smears from registration errors, and there are also problems with its lead-based white pigment. Lead white pigment used plain (or mixed to lighten other colors) is subject to chemical discoloration. Over time portions of this originally white pigment may gradually turn first rusty-orange, then charcoal gray - or go directly to gray. Many copies of 130 (a) (including the one illustrated above) show both orange and gray discoloration around the outer edges of the petals, especially on the flowers along the upper and lower margins of the design. Other copies also show similar gray discolored patches in the originally even background (which apparently also contains lead white in the ink mixture).

For both 130 (b) and 130 (c) Rakusan apparently used a different white pigment which does not discolor as easily. In addition there are almost no known copies of either of these morphs with serious printing flaws. The oldest securely dated copy of 130 from 1935-1936 is a 130 (a). It is entirely possible that chemical problems encountered in initially printing 130 (a) forced Rakusan to change his color formulae for later printing of 130 (b) and 130 (c).

The earliest 36 Series prints were delivered tipped into recessed wells of presentation sheets embossed in their lower margins with the series title. 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. 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. There are documented copies of both 130 (a) and 130 (b) which have retained their presentation sheets, but to date none have been located for the relatively rare 130 (c). However, absence of presentation sheets is not necessarily diagnostic of later printings because many early prints have subsequently been detached from theirs. There are however other indications that 130 (c) may be entirely post World War II and thus potentially separable as an edition II defined only by slight color changes within the design instead of by modifying the attribution markings.

Theme History:
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 typically consists of a quintet of monochrome Fan Series designs (one design in each of the five fan shapes), plus one polychrome 36 Series 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. 130 is the 36 Series design of the 130 Cherry theme.

The 130 Cherry theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print. 130 and four 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 remaining Fan Series design has seal B which indicates a later carving period closer to the time of publication. The 130 Cherry theme was eventually grouped with other spring season themes near the end of the series.

The Fan Series prints of the 130 Cherry theme were distributed in early 1935 in installment ten (of twelve), but the delivery documents relating to installment ten remain to be discovered. The series as originally announced would have seen this installment published in October 1934. However, with documented delays the earliest month it could actually have been delivered is January 1935, and it may well have been even further delayed.

A minimum of three different kinds of cherry are shown in 130 Cherry theme designs. The flowers in 130, 130-1, and 130-3 are double; in 130-2 and 130-4 they are single; and in 130-5 they are also single, and in addition this is the only weeping form. Therefore, the theme subject cannot be expressed as any particular variety of cherry.

At least some of the cherry designs in this theme were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of designs 3, 88, 87, and 67 in the earlier 100 Series (see below).

Species Illustrated:
In Japanese the general name for any cherry is 桜 (or older style 櫻), さくら, サクラ, sakura. As with many kinds of cultivated flowering cherry, the species identification is subject to taxonomic disagreement. In the West many varieties are often described as selections (or hybrids) of Japanese (Hill) Cherry, Prunus serrulata, a tall wild species with orange new foliage and smooth bark popularly called 山桜, やまざくら, ヤマザクラ, yama-zakura, lit. 'mountain cherry'. In Japan this wild cherry is sometimes identified as Prunus (Cerasus) jamazakura (with the species name taken from a European spelling of the Japanese name).

Blue-and-White Flycatcher, Cyanoptila cyanomelana, おおるり, オオルリ, 大瑠璃, oo-ruri, lit. 'large lapis-lazuli' is a familiar and colorful native species. Rakusan has shown the more colorful male bird in 130.

Related Designs:
Other designs in the 130 Cherry theme:
130-1 130-2 130-3 130-4 130-5

Other designs with kinds of cherries:
3 88 81 67

Other designs with blue-and-white flycatchers: